Opportunity to grow
Presenting incremental challenge and matching with appropriate support
More about "Opportunity To Grow" ...
- In the ideal case, adults help children see what they can accomplish with support (scaffolding), and then challenge them to do more than they are comfortable doing by intentionally fading away some support to see what the children can do on their own (fading). It's like learning to ride a bike with training wheels -- supports like training wheels and a steadying hand are necessary to begin, but to truly learn how to ride a bike, those supports eventually need to be removed.
- The focal point of Opportunity to Grow is the appropriateness of the challenge to the child's present level of competence and confidence, and whether the adult offers any support to fill in the gap. It is not necessary for the child to actually make progress in a matter of minutes or even days, just so long as they are encouraged and challenged to make progress. Not all interactions focus narrowly on identifiable academic skills. As observers, it would be helpful to think about what is can be "grown" in a particular interaction: content knowledge, procedural skill, social and emotional capacity, behavioral regulation, and so on.
- In some "X" moments of opportunity to grow, children are simply given unreachable tasks without any supports. Or, children are given no "stretching" expectations at all through undemanding tasks. Can the child readily do the task, in repetition, without any extra help or prompt? If yes, it may be undemanding (X). Does the task appear impossibly difficult and beyond reach, and there is no obvious evidence that the adult is providing any help beyond demand/expectation? If yes, it may be unrealistic (X). Just as reciprocity avoids the false dichotomy of "adult-led" vs "child-led" this dimension of "opportunity to grow" avoids the false distinction between "high expectations" and "low expectations." A child needs the right size expectations or incrementally more challenging expectations.
- Can the child do the task, in increments, with relative ease so long as some help and prompting is provided along the way? If yes, the moment may exemplify a "Y" on the dimension of opportunity to grow, which shows times of incremental challenge with scaffolding. A key distinction between scaffolding and fading is that scaffolding breaks the task into smaller and smaller chunks so that each chunk is easily digestible or accessible. Fading involves some deliberate effort to stretch the comfort zone of the child.
- Does it appear that the child is experiencing a desirable amount of difficulty that requires "stretching" or "reaching" beyond what is comfortable? Adult help is near and available, but not rigidly scripted or uniform -- the adult’s goal is not “help you get it done, quickly and easily” but “see what you can do." A distinction between “unrealistic” in “X” and fading in “Z” is that the adult in “X” assumes the child should do it without support; the adult in “Z” is not sure, but wants to see, and is therefore attentive to how the child is struggling and adaptive in deciding how much more help to give and when. For both “unrealistic X” and for “Z,” the child may struggle -- the difference is that the child shows some level of competence/confidence, and is struggling to reach higher in “Z”; but in “X”, the child does not show much competence/confidence, and is simply struggling with an unrealistic task.