Understanding child development is a vital step in laying the foundation for lifelong learning and continuous development of an individual. Therefore, examining the theories that seek to explain the concept of childhood development is extraordinarily helpful in identifying strategies that encourage the emergence of early literacy and the related skills in children. Although two major theories detailing cognitive development stages, namely, the ones by Vygotsky and Piaget, differ in their understanding of the mechanism of cognitive skills development, both provide a vital insight into fostering these skills in young learners.
Specifically, the nature of the theorists’ perception of cognitive development process is significantly different. Namely, Vygotsky emphasized the significance of sociocultural effects on the acquisition of the critical cognitive skills that contribute to the further development, including the ability to conjure symbolic thought, the skills associated with performing logical operations, and other abilities (Santrock et al., 2014). In turn, the approach that Piaget promotes allows centering on the manner in which children interacts with the environment around them, thus gaining vital skills and building an understanding of how the observed phenomena occur (Eby & Molnar, n.d.). Therefore, the perception of the nature of learning and the framework on which the relevant cognitive skills are developed constitutes the fundamental difference between the theories of Vygotsky and Piaget.
In order to encourage active cognitive development in learners, an educator might need to integrate several elements of Piaget’s theory into the lesson plan. Namely, the focus on the learners’ interaction with the environment and the use of previous experiences will be needed. For this purpose, a teacher will have to include tasks based on previously built skills into the lesson plan so that students could acquire the necessary experiences. For instance, a teacher should use students’ knowledge of addition to explain the concept of multiplication as a series of sums. In turn, based on Vygotsky’s theory, the lesson plan should be changed to pairing students with one another to introduce scaffolding and the active use of language to assist those having issues with understanding the concept of multiplication. The question that the overview of the theories invites is, “How can the concepts of the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky) and the recognition of the importance of interacting with the environment (Piaget) assist in addressing developmental issues in children?”
Eby, D. W., & Molnar, L. J. (n.d.). Matching traffic safety strategies to youth characteristics: A literature review of cognitive development. NHTSA. Web.
Santrock, J. W., Deater-Deckard, K., & Lansford, J. E. (2014). Child development (15th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.