When young children begin their early childhood education in preschool or kindergarten, early childhood teachers like their colleagues in primary education must be able to adjust the level of support they provide. In an ever-increasing online and digital world, where young children are already exposed to so much technology in their lives, scaffolding in early childhood education is vital.
So what is scaffolding in early childhood? It is a type of assistance given to children to support their task and in the next few paragraphs, I will discuss with you how you can apply this to technology integration in preschool or kindergarten or even early years primary classes.
As this is all about tech integration and developing ICT capability in early childhood, be on the lookout for examples of scaffolding in early childhood education in relation to this matter too.
How can scaffolding help children?
First, what are the benefits of scaffolding in the classroom? By scaffolding, you are determining the route to be taken by the student on their journey towards ICT capability. There are many routes to be taken so it is important that you consider the ICT techniques, routines and concepts which the child will accumulate en route.
Scaffolding in the classroom provides:
- Clear direction.
- Clear expectations.
- Increasing independence gradually.
- Motivation and momentum.
This is what is scaffolding in education is all about.
General possible scaffolding in the classroom examples include:
- Show and tell.
- Tap into prior knowledge.
- Give time to talk.
- Pre-teach vocabulary.
- Use visual aids.
- Pause, ask questions, pause, and review.
There is a great deal of importance of scaffolding in early childhood education as it helps any young child who is new to the learning environment build their confidence while learning and even though a child may have some technical capabilities, this support is vital to their well-being.
Teacher ICT Capability and Scaffolding
Of course, scaffolding learning in a lesson that involves the use of ICT is not going to have a positive impact on student ICT learning if your own level of ICT capability is not up to scratch.
The ICT capability of a teacher is similar to that of a students’ where it is not about acquiring ICT skills and techniques but developing an understanding and judgement about how to use those skills appropriately.
The level of ICT capability of a teacher is important as it will influence a students’ use of ICT. If you have a high level of ICT capability, it would be more natural for you to scaffold learning of ICT alongside the main learning objectives.
How Scaffolding works in ECE with Technology Integration
The term ‘technology’ is not an entirely accurate description these days as it implies more than just digital technology in early childhood education. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is what you need to refer to and scaffolding learning in early childhood for it can be similar in some ways and a bit complex in others.
I have listed these examples of scaffolding in early childhood education and care so that you will be able to provide adequate support whilst integrating technology into the EYLF curriculum outcomes.
Scaffolding techniques in early childhood education when it comes integrating ICT for the development of ICT capability include:
Tune in – listen carefully to what is being said, observing the child’s body language, and what they are doing.
Show genuine interest – give your whole attention to the child, maintain eye contact, and affirm by smiling and nodding.
Respect the children’s own decisions and choices by inviting children to elaborate – say things such as “I really want to know more about this” and listen and engage in their response.
Re-capping – say things like “So you think that….”
Offering your own experience – “I like to listen to music when I cook dinner at home.”
Suggest – “You might like to try doing it this way.”
Clarify ideas – “Right, Joe, so you think that if we emptied the paint pot into this image it will escape through the gap?”
Use encouragement to further thinking – “You have really thought hard about where to put the door in the palace – where will the windows go?”
Offer an alternative viewpoint – “What if…?”
Speculate – “What kind of….?”
Reciprocate – “Thank goodness you saved your picture before the power went off Julie.”
Use positive questioning – for example, “I don’t know, what do you think?”; “That’s an interesting idea.” Etc.
Ask open-ended questions – “What do you think?” “I wonder what would happen if….?”
Model thinking – “I have to think hard about what I should do this lunchtime. I need to phone the engineer because he has to come and fix the printer.”
These are also examples of scaffolding in childcare.
Further examples of scaffolding children’s learning may be adapted such as the scaffolding techniques that follow:
At times, scaffolding when using technology in the classroom can be provided by the technology itself. It can stimulate and scaffold the ICT processes and higher order thinking skills. However, this type of technology does not develop ICT capability as it does not allow children to use it as a tool and they don’t have full control over it.
Scaffolding lessons in the classroom when using ICT means that you must leave gap between the students’ abilities and the requirements of the problem situation if you are to ensure that learning occurs. Intentional support must be offered by you by adding to the affordances of the learning environment.
Examples of scaffolding in the classroom include:
- Providing an information sheet to assist the use of the software.
- Providing a clear demonstration on a big screen of the actions to be followed.
- Asking a series of structured leading questions.
- Organising a class discussion of results.
As ICT capability comprises of several components which constitute its development, the predominant sources of learning occurs:
- Routines – primarily through practice.
- ICT techniques – copying a teacher or other children; trial or error.
- Concepts – developed through verbalisation of activities and reflection on ICT experiences. These experiences MUST be carefully structured by you to engage students with examples and non-examples of the concept.
- Processes – developed by multistage ICT techniques in a range of problem situations with an increasing degree of student autonomy and involvement.
- Higher order thinking skills – developed in an environment that encourages exploration when opportunities are presented to the student to decide what software and ICT techniques to use.
If you think about processes more, it is through providing scaffolding here along with higher order thinking skills where it counts the most.
You would need to provide the minimum amount of support by structuring your questioning, prompting, and showing if necessary and then withdraw your support to see what they have learned unaided.
For higher order thinking skills, you need to notice how they are able to carry out complete processes themselves when the scaffolding techniques in the classroom have been taken away.
Scaffolding in childcare, preschool or kindergarten can all help build on young children’s ICT experiences at home by using the above scaffolding techniques in the classroom.
It is important that scaffolding children’s learning in relation to digital technology in early childhood education promotes and supports the development of ICT capability. More times than not, it will be the affordances of your early learning environment that will provide the best scaffold to use.
I encourage you to next time implement these teaching strategies in early childhood and use these examples of scaffolding children’s learning the next time a child picks up an ICT device.
Other examples of scaffolding in childcare and early childhood education include:
- Making suggestions.
- Probing questions.
- Using demonstrations.
- Introducing a prop.
- Providing support.
- Offering encouragement.