Saturday, November 24, 2012


Vygotsky is one of my favorite theorist. I think his belief that children learn through community is so true. I also like his theory of ZPD ~ Zone of Proximal Development:

"...the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers." (p. 86)
Vygotsky, L. (1978) Mind in Society: The Development of Psychological Processes.

I have seen children use this idea much more frequently than adults. Children have a way of helping peers leap from one zone to another. You may see this when children are playing. A child who commonly has a hard time paying attention will suddenly be able to attend to something within a role they are playing in a communal game.  

Adults can help children stretch across this zone in different and unobtrusive ways. For example when a child is trying to pour some juice for himself, rather than do it for him, help by showing him how and then with your hand on his pour together. 

Or when children are trying to come to an agreement about a toy or a game, refrain from taking the toy away or making them change the game. For when you do this what have they learned. Rather give them some guidelines for negotiating. Give them an example or words to use. You can talk about these guidelines at another time (another way of modeling), have them pretend to share a toy or item. Allow them time to share the ideas. This is helping their zone of proximal development; and allowing them to learn how to be collaborating adults. 

Vygotsky's idea that children learn through social constructs as a necessity of learning is why I spend so much of my time working on the social aspects of early childhood education.  Children learn through community, if we make that community a place of collaboration and acceptance they will have greater ideas and achieve greater learning. 

Here are some further sites with information about vygotsky:

Many Blessings

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