Scaffolding Children

Scaffolding is a terminology used in child developmental psychology has a support technique for children starting new experiences. The first support is provided by a more competent person such as the parent or another older child/sibling. As the child becomes more confident is carrying out certain task and activities the scaffolding support is reduced and finally taken away. Imagine a house being renovated and surrounded with scaffolding. After the builders or architect identify the house has all the right support in place, the scaffolding materials comes off after this process. An example is a child learning to climb a climbing frame for the first time. A parent, carer or a more competent child will show or tell the child learning the new experience how to put hands and feet in a safe way that will prevent the child from falling. The child learning the new experience will be told to climb a little distance from the ground. After a while the child becomes competent, asking for little help or no help at all. He/She becomes confident in climbing up the frame knowing where to put hands and feet, the techniques to use and if confident enough will climb to the very top of the climbing frame.


The scaffolding technique can be likened to parents provide rules, routines, boundaries and discipline for children. As parents we have certain rules or boundaries in place for our children in supporting them become competent or have the understanding needed to face the task. There are so many examples of scaffolding in every day family life, which includes:
• Riding a bicycle with stabilizers and later taking it off,
• Taking your child to school and later letting him/her go independently,
• Not letting your child make a single meal, to letting him/her make a sandwich and later cooking a meal. (My 8 year old son is at the stage of making a sandwich himself, thou the worktop is left messed up with Jam).

One scaffolding technique I have in place as a family rule is the children not taking fizzy drink until they are 10 years old. Why this rule?, because my boys have lots of natural energy in them and letting them have fizzy drinks, with so much artificial sugar can make their energy level higher, which in turn lessen their ability to dangerous play. Does it mean at 10 years they will not find themselves in dangerous play, of cause that will happen but by then they will have the understanding on how to manage playful act not getting to dangerous.

Sometimes society and government put scaffolding techniques in place to support our children until they have the understanding or have developed enough. Such scaffolding includes:
• Age limit on alcohol,
• Movies that should be watch from certain age,
• Driving until a certain age and many more.

No chronological age has been mentioned so far, this is because in most cases biology and the development of the human body can be a form of scaffolding. Children develop at different stages of development. As parents, it is our duty to identify if our child is competent enough to understand and carry out the task independently or he/she needs a bit more scaffolding to survive.