Young Learners: Lev Vygotsky Theory

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Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) was a Russian psychologist. His work was translated and exposed to the west in 1960. Vygotsky developed Social development theory key concepts from the theory zone of proximal development and scaffolding. He also put great emphasis on that language develops through social interactions and the importance of imaginative play.

According to Malim and Birch (2005), the Zone of proximal development (ZPD) is the area between the child’s actual developmental level and potential level which could be achieved with the help of adults or more experienced peers. Vygotsky argued that adults should provide the children with activities that are challenging and that children will achieve something with the help of someone. The actives should fall within the Zone of proximal development. According to Flood (2013), Vygotsky believed that teaching and working with children is about finding each child’s ZPD and guiding them along with it. Tasks outside the zone that are below are too easy and tasks that above are too difficult should not be presented. In our childcare setting, we use observations and assessments to gather information about children their interests, abilities, and skills. Once that information is gathered, we plan the activities accordingly to suit the child’s development and also reflect on their interests. NCCA (2009) encourages childcare professionals to use learning stories which consist of documenting the activity that child is doing their skills, dispositions, interests, and attitudes. A big part of the learning story is where the childcare practitioner progresses the child’s learning from the activity that the child is already doing or has a huge interest in; This means that the childcare practitioner will have to know the ZPD of the child and know the child’s abilities, making sure the learning outcomes for the child are met. The other aspect of Vygotsky's theory that I agree(first time mentioning agree with) with as I see it is happening in the childcare setting that I am in is peer learning. One room in the setting has a mix of ages which ranges from 2-4. Daily, I see how older children teach the younger children just by doing things. Younger children watch older children at clean-up times during free play and art and they learn from this observation process. I saw two girls drawing pictures one of them was looking at another and taking pen and pencils and drawing and watching and learning through conversations., asking questing, and just gather information by listening to older children. This links in with NCCA (2009) children will demonstrate the ability to reason, negotiate and think logically. Children will develop and use skills for observing, questing, and investigating and also links in with CEDE(2006) encourages in component 5.1.7 that arrangements are in place to enable children to mix children of other children and that older child helping younger children.

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It is also depending on the group of children from year to year as sometimes older children don’t have the patience to bring on the younger ones and they don’t want to be held back and wait for them. Closely linked to ZPD is scaffolding. According to Flood (2013) Scaffolding is when an adult or more able peer providing a correct level of support to the learning child. When a child is first introduced to something new and challenging the adult or more able peer provides a lot of support. According to Fontona (1995) scaffolding is when an adult guiding the child repeatedly through relevant behavior and provides strategies needed to reach the successful solution. Vygotsky believed that imaginative play helps children to promote their self-regulation skills they are developing self-control and learning a concept of life and how to do things.

Vygotsky stressed the importance of play in children’s learning. According to O’Brien (2011) Vygotsky believed that play allowed children opportunity to interact with other children which increased the potential for learning to occur. emphasized that language and development build upon each other. Language is used during role-play and when children interacting with each other. From observing the children in my childcare setting one of the areas that the learning and interactions through role plays occurs is in the home corner. Children use the home corner to play families and babies where daddies would be coming for dinner from work or home corner could turn to café for the builders. Home corner could be a local shop where children learn mathematical concepts as well as objects that are sold in the shop. The huge amount language would be used during those times when children would interact with each other. Children would be deloping their language from . According to Bruce et al 2010 Vygotsky thought that language emerged from social interactions and relationships. I would strongly agree with that belief as I could see children with that are in the setting and English is not their first language by just being in the setting and interacting with the children and staff, they pick up the new language quiet quickly through play and interactions. I would also say from my own experience where English is not my first language that just being emerged into social interactions with peers and family that I was able to learn the language quite easily.

NCCA (2009) states that children learn and develop through play by strengthening relationships, having fun interpretations of experiences and situations. Vygotsky also emphasised the important role that culture plays in how children think and learn and that culture and the environment that they are in has an huge impact on the way they think and their belief sytem. Corsaro (2005) states that culture and environment in which children grown up in influence how children think and what they think about. He sees beliefs, values and tools of intellectual adaption of the culture in which person develops.

Criticism of Vygotsky

According to Rogoff (1990) he dismisses the idea that Vygotky ideas are culturaly universal and states that the concept of scaffolding which is heavily dependent on verbal instruction may not be useful for all cultures for all types of learning. Indeed in some instANCES , Observation and practice may be more effective ways of learning certain skills.

Vygotsky is important to early years workers because he emphasizes the key 'instructional' role played by adults and other children who know more than the baby or young child who is learning. His theory recognised that learning is a social activity which happens in culturally relevant contexts during playful interactions.

  • Vygotsky believed that speech not only has communicative intent for children, but that it also plays a role in problem solving
  • Dialogue is an important tool of scaffolding in the ZPD
  • It can help children to order disorganised thoughts, can help develop logic and rational

Another theorist that contributed to psychology was John Bowlby developed Attachment theory. When Bowlby was developing his theory, he took on board a lot of ideas from different theorist and those ideas had a great influence on his work. Bowlby also had a few theorist that followed his work and done some research on it Mary Ainsworth devised an assessment technique called the Strange Situation Classification. and Schaffer and Emerson. Ac cited in O’Brien (2011) Attachment is long-enduring, emotionally meaningful tie to a particular individual. According to O’Brien (2011) attachment is ability to form secure and meaningful relationships parents/caregivers and others later in life. Yearly years’ experience in childhood has an important influence on how an individual builds relationships in the future. Malim and Birch (2005) states that Bowlby argued that the most meaningful relationship is between mother and the baby.

According to ytube secure attachment has four basic chracterists safe heaven is where child depend on caregiver for support and reassurance. Secure base . proximity maintance. Separation distress. Attachment styles Secure attachment the parent used as a base and the child shows preference for the parent over stranger seeking them out when they return after a period of absence. Ambivalent attachment the type of attachment the child gets very upset when the parent or caregiver lives , the childs needs meat but not consistently. Avoidant attachment the children keeps away from the child. Disorganised attachment.

The attachment theory can be applied in the childcare setting by having a key worker system as it helps create and formulate the bonds between yearly years practitioner and a child. CDDCE (2006) states that key worker system is vital in the setting in order to keep the interactions going and develop positive and secure relationship between childcare worker and a child. The relationship between childcare worker and child need to be developed through positive interactions respect and sense of security. This links in with NCCA(2009) states that relationships are at the heart of children development and through their interactions babies learn to feel secure , to communicate, and enjoy being with people.

McLeod (2018) states that Mary Ainsworth concluded that strange situation can be used to identify the child’s type of attachment and her findings and evidence for the first to prove that Bowlby’s theory of attachment works. However Bowlby's views on attachment especially to just one caregiver usually mother or female received some criticism. Some theorist degree that a baby can only form secure attachment with the mother could be fathers or close family member. Schaffer and Emerson (1964) concluded that mothering for the baby can be conluded by male or female and done by several people. I think Bowlby’s theory of attachment is very applicable in the childcare setting as children from different forms of attachment in their lives. If childcare worker is aware of the different forms of attachment and has a good knowledge of how to deal with the children it could help create a secure environment and meet the children’s needs for the children and cater and care for children accordingly.

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