Researchers have, for many years, documented the importance of the Guiding Relationship in which caregivers function as ‘guides’, providing children who assume the role of apprentices with experiences structured to be just a bit advanced from the edge of the child’s current level of competence.
When a Guiding Relationship is functioning, it becomes a collaborative dance, with each partner contributing to the success of the shared endeavor.
Apprentices provide generally reliable feedback to guides, related to their moment-to-moment experience – specifically their ability to manage the inevitable tension associated with engaging beyond the edge of their competence.
Guides use this feedback to carefully adjust the level of challenge and support they provide, allowing them to raise the bar in little increments, presenting tougher problems and demanding greater responsibility to stretch the students mental functioning, while still providing an environment where the child feels competent and safe.
Guides balance challenge with scaffolding, providing just enough support, delivered only when needed and gradually phased out as the child develops mastery.
While most parents in every culture conduct their essential guiding role in a good-enough fashion, they also do so in a largely unaware manner. They rarely construct specific objectives, track their progress, construct plans or evaluate the manner in which they are performing these essential functions.
In the following video, researcher Barbara Rogoff shows the cross-cultural nature of the Guiding Relationship