Thursday, September 07, 2006


The second part of setting up a successful RDI activity is Scaffolding. Scaffolding is what we do to help the child feel competent in the role that he is taking in the activity. The idea is to scaffold (modify his participation in the activity) just enough so that he successfully participates, but not so much that there's no challenge for him. And as the child becomes more competent in that role, you reduce the scaffolding until he's actually performing his role completely on his own.

Going back to my cat feeding example, here's how I would scaffold it: initially I would set it up so that the bin was open and full of cat food, the scoop was in it, and the bowls were lined up nearby. I would hand Jacob the scoop, and put my hand over his to help him scoop the cat food out, then I would hold a bowl out towards him and help him pour the food into it. When he started getting competent at scooping and pouring, I let him do that on his own, handing him a bowl to pour into. Eventually, I stopped handing him the bowl and he had to reach for it on his own. Then I stopped removing the lid of the bin, so that he had to get it off himself. Then I started not including the scoop, so he had to run to the place that I stored it to get it before he could start scooping. Then I stopped bringing the bowls in and he had to go gather them from the hallway where they were left the last time the cats were fed. then I started letting the cat food run low so that occassionally he had to solve the dilemna of not having enough food. This reducation in scaffolding didn't happen overnight, it was over the course of months. But as his competence with the activity grew, I kept withdrawing more of the scaffolding.

Now, that might sound all well and fine, but it's tough figuring out exactly where to draw that scaffolding line. I'm a pretty infamous over-scaffolder -- I tend to not push him as hard as I could, and I actually think we'd be further along in our RDI program if I pushed him more. So I probably remove scaffolding at a much slower rate than I need to -- I like to see him be successful. But I think there's a greater danger in withdrawing the scaffolding too quickly (or not scaffolding enough intially, which I'm guilty of myself), in that if the child feels incompetent with the activity, they may refuse to participate, or may become so dysregulated that they have a big unproductive meltdown, which isn't pleasant for anyone. And it erodes their trust with you. So my feeling is, better to over-scaffold and make slower progress than to under-scaffold and meet failure at every turn for the poor kid. But too much of a good thing is not beneficial, so you've got to constantly be monitoring whether or not your child feels challenged, as without challenge there is no learning/progress. Posted by Picasa


At 3:37 AM, Blogger Cecily said...

I am finding this blog really really helpful and interesting. We take our son to get assessed by the paediatrician this week, and we're booked into see an RDI lady in October, so all your experience is greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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