Element 1.2.2: Responsive teaching and scaffolding

Educators respond to children’s ideas and play and extend children’s learning through open-ended questions, interactions and feedback.

What Element 1.2.2 aims to achieve

Children’s learning is extended when educators make decisions and implement actions that respond to children’s ideas and play to enhance their learning. Responsive teaching and scaffolding involves:

  • following up on children’s ideas and interests with open-ended questions and providing positive feedback
  • encouraging children to further explore their interests and stimulate their thinking
  • considering how children are grouped for play
  • implementing experiences that support peer scaffolding or extending children’s learning through engagement with other children
  • using spontaneous ‘teachable moments’ and incidental opportunities to enhance children’s play and scaffold their learning (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework, p. 15; and the Framework for School Age Care, pp. 14–15).

Responsive teaching is achieved by valuing and building on children’s current and evolving strengths, skills and knowledge to ensure their wellbeing, motivation and engagement in learning. Children learn best when the experiences they have are meaningful to them and are focused on the here and now. Because children constantly learn new skills and gain new insights into their world, educators continuously assess, evaluate and implement responsive teaching strategies.


Educators reflect on the inclusiveness of their practices, including whether these are responsive to individual children and whether they acknowledge all children’s contributions to the group. This updates their knowledge of individual children and helps them to plan new and follow-up experiences that are relevant to each child. All of these experiences are implemented within a social context where peer interactions are encouraged and supported, building a sense of belonging for all children.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.2.2 (for all services)

The assessment will be undertaken primarily through observation and discussion with educators.

Responsive teaching and scaffolding practice


Assessors may observe:

  • educators:
    • intentionally scaffolding children’s understanding and learning
    • making use of spontaneous ‘teachable moments’ to extend children’s learning
    • responding to children’s learning dispositions by commenting on them and providing encouragement and additional ideas
    • responding to children’s ideas and using their interests as a basis for further learning and exploration
    • creating opportunities for peer scaffolding
    • noticing children applying their learning in new ways or between different contexts and talking about this with them in ways that build their understanding
    • modelling mathematical and scientific language and concepts
    • using language associated with the creative arts
    • talking explicitly about phonological concepts, such as rhyme, letters and sounds when sharing texts with children
    • joining in children’s play when invited, taking on a range of roles and co-constructing materials, such as signs that extend the play and enhance literacy and/or numeracy learning (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework, pp. 15, 34–41; and the Framework for School Age Care, pp. 15, 36).
  • children:
    • being curious and enthusiastic participants in their learning
    • using their own ideas to develop their play.

Assessors may discuss how educators:

  • recognise and value children’s involvement in learning
  • provide learning environments that are flexible and open-ended
  • plan learning environments with appropriate levels of challenge, where children are encouraged to explore, experiment and take appropriate risks in their learning
  • support children’s investigations and projects
  • communicate with children about their learning and ideas and how they build on these.

Assessors may sight the written program, including examples of:

  • documented reflective practice
  • documentation and monitoring of children’s learning, development, wellbeing and engagement
  • project or inquiry work where children are given the opportunity to take the lead in an investigation, or collaborate with peers, teachers, family members and other members of the community.