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Structured Teaching – A Teaching Model for Caregivers

Posted on January 12, 2020 by Ann

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Written by Gerry Da (Early Intervention Teacher, SPD)

As quality intervention most often takes place in the child’s natural environment, caregivers’ involvement is important in extending learning opportunities to children with developmental needs at home. This article explains how caregivers can play the role of the teacher at home.

What is Structured Teaching?

Structured Teaching, also known as “Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR)”, is a model of instruction that gradually shifts the responsibility in the learning process from teachers/caregivers to a child. It enables the child to become a more independent learner.

The model aims to promote the child’s independence and mastery of targeted skills through three stages, involving demonstration, prompting, and independent practice.

Three Stages of Structured Teaching

Stage 1: I Do (Demonstration)

At this stage, the caregiver provides direct instructions to the child and incorporates demonstrations to help the child understand an activity better. The caregiver should explain to the child the purpose(s) of the activities and the expected learning outcomes. The caregiver should also provide explanations and examples.

The Caregiver

  • Tells the child what the purpose and expected learning outcomes are (e.g., writing, counting).
  • Conducts teaching demonstrations.
  • Explains the processes step-by-step.
  • Answers questions.

The Child

  • Watches the teaching demonstrations.
  • Listens to explanations.
  • Asks questions or seeks clarification.


Caregiver: Today, we will be learning to colour your favourite cartoon characters. (Make the presentation interesting for the child.)

I will show you how, and we will do it together later. (Try to build the child’s confidence.)

I will start now, please watch me do it. (Demonstrates colouring.)

Child: Okay. (Watches the demonstration.)

Stage 2: We Do (Prompting)

Photo created by nensuria – www.freepik.com

At this stage, the caregiver guides the child to carry out the task together. The caregiver should strategically use prompts, cues, and questions to get the child to do more of the work. The caregiver should gradually withdraw assistance in preparation of the child’s independent practice. However, support should be given again when the child experiences difficulty in carrying out the activity.


The Caregiver

  • Guides the child to carry out the task.
  • Repeats the teaching demonstration (as necessary).
  • Asks the child to carry out the task and assist the child to increase the success rate.
  • Asks questions to check the child’s understanding (if possible).
  • Takes the lead initially, then gradually reduces assistance.
  • Gives positive feedback (e.g., verbal praise, pat on the shoulder).
  • Watches and promptly assists the child to help him or her avoid making errors.
  • Encourages the child to do the activities by himself or herself.

The Child

  • Applies what he or she observed during Stage 1 (Demonstration).
  • Answers questions from the caregiver (if possible).
  • Works with the caregiver to complete the task.
  • Asks questions, seeks clarification and assistance (if possible).
  • Gradually takes the lead in completing the task.


Caregiver: Now, let’s colour the picture together.

(Use physical assistance, e.g., hand over hand, to help the child in colouring the picture. Gradually reduce assistance by slowly releasing the control of the child’s hand movement while colouring. If the child is doing well, move your hand from the child’s hand to his or her wrist until independence is achieved. However, hold the child’s hand again to offer assistance if the child experiences difficulty colouring within the lines.)


Stage 3: We Do (Independent Practice)

Photo created by nensuria – www.freepik.com

In this final stage, the child applies what he or she has learnt and carries out the activity independently. The child is primarily responsible for his or her own learning. He or she processes information, transforms ideas and solidifies the new learning. This stage will also allow the caregiver to identify the need for re-teaching of the skill, if necessary.

The Caregiver

  • Supervises the child’s independent practice.
  • Provides positive feedback (e.g., “Good writing, keep going”).
  • Evaluates the child’s readiness to work independently.

The Child

  • Works independently.


Caregiver: Now, can you colour the other side of the square?”

(After colouring one side of a shape with the child, (Stage 2: We Do), let the child colour the other side by himself or herself (Stage 3: You Do).)       

Structured Teaching Flowchart



The flowchart above presents the sequence of actions caregivers can take. However, the sequence is not linear. Depending on the child’s level of confidence, caregivers may choose to begin at any of the stages that is appropriate for the child. The caregiver can also move the child back and forth along the sequence of actions during the learning process.



SPD is an All In Preferred Partner.

SPD is a charity in Singapore set up to help people with disabilities of all ages to maximise their potential and integrate them into mainstream society.

This guide was originally published by SPD and republished with minor editorial amendments by All In.

All content found on the All In website, has been created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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