Vygotsky’s Theory of Child Development






Vygotsky’s Theory of Child Development

Theory Summary

Vygotsky’s theory of child development focuses on the significance of adult assistance in the cognitive development of children. Rather than focus on the self-discovery capability of children, he posited that adult guidance and instruction could help expedite their development. By giving children tasks, the adults are able to learn the limits of child independent learning and the range of tasks that the child can do with their assistance. The method enhanced capability in children. It is termed as the zone of proximal development (ZDP). Vygotsky’s theory of child development is also known as the socio-cultural method due to its focus the impact of cultural and social factors in the cognitive growth of children (Chen & Eisenberg 3). Nonetheless, Vygotsky acknowledges the essence of biological factors in a child’s mental development.


Below are some of his primary assumptions. He claimed that adult interactions with children mediated how they encounter life in respect to their own experiences. They assist the child to understand how their culture interprets and subsequently responds to life events. The methods employed are mainly formal training and informal conversations. Another assumption that is inherent in every culture is that there are cognitive and physical tools that enhance the efficiency of life. It is the mandate of adults to pass on these tools to the children. During the early lifetime of a child, progress is measured by the increasing interdependence between language and thought. They are no longer mutually exclusive activities. Complex mental processes progress from social activities to internal mental activities in a process called internalization. For instance self-talk evolves into inner speech (Mooney 5). Children construct the utility of the cultural tools they are given. They interpret them to suit the needs even when they contradict with their intended social functions. Children rarely learn anything through doing things they can achieve independently hence the need for challenging activities. Play is instrumental in increasing children’s mental horizons.


Though Vygotsky’s theory entails gradual increase in cognitive capacity there is no fixed order of cognitive development akin to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Similarly, the theory supposes that definite stages are impossible due to the diverse capabilities of different children. One child can learn sports faster while his academic capabilities may be limited.


The theory is relevant in the art of apprenticeship. In modeling, the teacher or adult may simply demonstrate the skill and the learner will observe subsequently imitating him. The most effective in sports and learning of music is coaching. The mentor demonstrates the skill and gives constant suggestions on the correct methods of doing it (Ormrod 46). The most crucial part of the guidance process is feedback whereby the student is informed on the areas needing correction. On learning the basic skills, the student is exposed to tasks that are more complex.

Essence of Theory in Personal Development

The theory assists a person to recognize that different people have different capabilities and learning speeds. Recognition of this fact will help a person become more understanding of students who lag behind academically. Similarly, it will lessen the teachers’ frustration about his efficiency. It may help a person recognize that developing capabilities late does not imply one is slow. For instance, Albert Einstein, the patriarch of modern physics, was himself a late bloomer. The theory assists a person to avoid complacency with his natural talents and aspire to learn new skills (Ormrod 44). It also increases the awareness of individuals that no one is independent and there is no shame in soliciting assistance.


Works Cited

Chen, Xinyin, and Nancy Eisenberg. “Understanding cultural issues in child development: introduction.” Child Development Perspectives 6.1 (2012): 1-4. Print.

Mooney, Carol Garhart. Theories of Childhood: An Introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget & Vygotsky. Redleaf Press, 2013. Print.

Ormrod, Jeanne Ellis. Educational Psychology: Pearson New International Edition: Developing Learners. Pearson Higher Ed, 2013. Print.

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