Releasing Responsibility To Your Child

Okay, I have yet to post anything, but have been working long hours on organizing my blog.  I thought I’d go ahead and offer a teaching tip when working with your child.

The official name of the steps below is The Gradual Release of Responsibility or scaffolding.  It works beautifully when teaching your child almost anything, including life skills, like tying a shoe.  Following these steps helps reduce frustration for the child because you only ask the child to work independently after she has been given the strategies for which to do so.

Let’s taking rhyming as an example below:

1.      Model explicitly what you want the child to do over and over.

Mama: “I know some words that rhyme with cat.  Listen to this: sat, bat, fat, mat, pat, etc.  Can you hear how they sound alike?”

This is not just a one-time shot.  It may take days or weeks of modeling before you try the next step.  Explicit modeling means you explain your thinking and your strategy as you model it.  This builds up her strategies for tackling the task herself.

2.      Let the child try doing it with your support.

Mama: “Do cat and bat rhyme?”    Child: “yes.”

Mama: “Do cat and elephant rhyme?”    Child: “no.”

By giving the child the two words (cat/bat and cat/elephant), mama is providing some support, while asking the child to take on more responsibility.  If  the child answers incorrectly, be ready to model for her again.  Mama might say, “A cat and an elephant are both animals, but they don’t rhyme.  Cat and bat rhyme.”

3.      Let her practice it independently.

Mama: “Can you tell me a word that rhymes with cat?”

Child: “Rat.”

In step #3, the child is coming up with the answer herself instead of being given any words from which to choose.  This requires her to use the strategies without as much support.  Of course, if she comes up with a word that doesn’t rhyme, be ready to step back in with support (see #2).

4.  Application.

Child: “Hey mom!  I just heard to rhyming words in that poem: star and car!”

In the application process, the child is able to think about the strategy in a more flexible way, applying it in different situations independently.

I hope that helps you as you teach your child reading–or anything else.  I feel like I do a pretty good job remembering to gradually release the responsibility when I’m in “teacher mode”.  But I’ll confess, I forget all too often when it comes to “mama mode”.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: More -at Word Family Activities « This Reading Mama
  2. Trackback: Fiction Text Structure: Part Two « This Reading Mama
  3. Trackback: Tuesday’s Teaching Tip « This Reading Mama

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