A scaffold is a temporary support that is used when a building is being constructed. Scaffolding is slowly removed as the buildings inner structure is extensive enough to support itself. The term scaffolding has a similar meaning when applied to instruction referring to the temporary supports a teacher constructs to help a student build understanding. The teacher slowly removes the scaffolds as the student builds skills and knowledge that allows him/her to work indpendently

One example of scaffolding is an adult that runs alongside and guides a child as he/she learns to ride a bicycle. The adult begins by holding the back of the seat and one side of the handlebar. Next, the child takes responsibility for the handlebar and the adult continues to hold the seat. Finally, the adult slowly lets go of the seat as the child is able to balance and ride independently.

picture of scaffolding on a building and child riding a bike with adult helping
adapted from photos by Augaphel and Josh Parrish