Releasing Responsibility To Your Child

releasing responsibility to your child {This Reaidng Mama}Ever get frustrated trying to teach a child how to do something?  I know I have!  But there are some simple steps you can follow to minimize the frustration for you and your child. The official name of the steps I will list below is The Gradual Release of Responsibility or scaffolding.  It works beautifully when teaching your child pretty much anything, such as riding a bike.


In the following steps, you only ask the child to work independently after she has been given the strategies for which to do so.

Let’s taking rhyming words, just as an example:

1.  Model explicitly what you want the child to do over and over.

Mama: “I know some words that rhyme with cat.  Listen to this: sat, bat, fat, mat, pat, etc.  Can you hear how they sound alike?” or “Wow, did you hear those two words in that book?  They rhyme!”

This is not just a one-time shot.  It may take days or weeks of modeling before you try the next step.  Explicit modeling means you explain your thinking and your strategy as you model it.  This builds up her strategies for tackling the task herself.

2. Let the child try doing it with your support.

Mama: “Do cat and bat rhyme?”    Child: “yes.”

Mama: “Do cat and elephant rhyme?”    Child: “no.”

By giving the child the two words (cat/bat and cat/elephant), mama is providing some support, while asking the child to take on more responsibility.  If  the child answers incorrectly, be ready to model for her again.  You might say, “A cat and an elephant are both animals, but they don’t rhyme.  Cat and bat rhyme.”

3. Let her practice it independently.  Be ready to provide support, if needed at times.

Mama: “Can you tell me a word that rhymes with cat?”

Child: “Rat.”

In step #3, the child is coming up with the answer herself instead of being given any words from which to choose.  This requires her to use the strategies without as much support.  Of course, if she comes up with a word that doesn’t rhyme, be ready to step back in with support (see #2).

4.  Application.

Child: “Hey mom!  I just heard two rhyming words in that poem: star and car!  And I know another one…jar!”

In the application process, the child is able to think about the strategy in a more flexible way, applying it in different situations independently.

As you’re busy teaching your child, remember these four steps in releasing responsibility to her.  It will help to reduce frustration on her part and on your part as well.


If you enjoy these activities and printables, I would encourage you to follow along in one or more of these ways so you don’t miss a thing!



  1. […] Played “I Spy” with words.  We laid out all the -at words.  I said, “I Spy the word /s/-/a/-/t/.”  He had to blend the three sounds together to figure out which word I was saying.  He didn’t have any trouble with this.  If your child does have trouble blending the sounds in words, refer back to my post on releasing responsibility to your child. […]

  2. […] all the modeling and work to my student doing all the work.  This is called scaffolding.  Click here for a more in-depth […]

  3. […] Independent Work is not a time to introduce new material.  She should already possess the skills and strategies to tackle the assignment on her own; thus the word independent.  For ideas on moving your child from relying on you to working independently, visit my post. […]

  4. […] frustration for you and your child. One of the practices I learned from developmental teaching is gradually releasing responsibility to the child. This means modeling and teaching in the zone {see #4} with lots of support; then […]

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