Yesterday we talked about learning as a fun process that should expand, extend and enrich your child’s interests and understandings. We also talked about the learning zone as they place between what your child can already do and make sense of and actions and understandings that are out of their range, even with help, at this point in their development and learning. Today we’ll focus on what you can do to support children’s activity in their learning zone.
The support we provide for children in their learning zone is called scaffolding. Yesterday we used the example of holding an early toddler’s hand as they walk as an example of scaffolding although we didn’t call it scaffolding then). The basic idea of scaffolding is to provide just enough help to support your child’s engagement in an activity.
For example, if your child is interested in growing things (most children are). Grow some beans with them. You can use store bought dry beans with the caveat that beans from some bags may not sprout because they have been irradiated, otherwise treated or just stored under conditions which reduce their viability. You can sprout many kinds of beans by simply soaking them for 12 hours in a little cup of water. After 12 hours of soaking, drain the water and just rinse them several times a day. They should sprout within 2-3 days. At that point you can plant them in a cup of soil about ½-1” under the surface, keep the soil moist, put the cup in a sunny window and see what happens next. I like sprouting mung beans as you can eat the sprouts as well as planting them.
During this whole process, let your child do as much as they can proving only the support they need. Also, ask them lots of questions about what they observe.