What Is Scaffolding in Education?

Scaffolding is a method of teaching new material using a child's strengths, previous knowledge and special motivational techniques as a support or scaffold for the new information. The teacher removes the scaffolds as the child becomes more competent in the new area.

Teachers use scaffolding extensively with special education students and those learning English as a second language, but it a technique that is also used with typical children. Some scaffolding techniques include connecting lessons to prior knowledge, using a motivational system and breaking tasks into smaller parts. The teacher later removes contextual prompts, reduces the motivation system or requires more steps of the process to be completed at once as the student's competency increases and the support is no longer necessary.