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Vygotsky's influence on childcare

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Claire Tarbox

on 7 March 2018

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Transcript of Vygotsky's influence on childcare

Vygotsky's Influence Today
The Role of the Teacher Today
Current Example: Mixed Aged Groupings
Vygotsky's scaffolding theory
Vygotsky introduced the idea of the Zone of Proximal Development, a zone which can be reached by the child in a number of ways. One of these ways is 'scaffolding'. When scaffolding, the teacher must build interest and engage the learner.

In a child care setting, the teacher can engage the child and build their interest in the activity. For example, the teacher might demonstrate a task to the child first, making it appear fun and exciting.

Importantly, the teacher must keep the learner interested and focused. This is achieved by breaking the task into subtasks.
In Vygotsky's view, the teacher has the task of both directing and guiding the child's activity. With the guidance of the teacher, children learn how to solve novel problems (Woolfolk, 1998).

So in essence, children learn to solve problems through play with the help of the teacher or the 'more knowledgeable other'.

Thus, Vygotsky's influence is very much apparent in current practice, as child care teachers generally assist children in completing complicated tasks every day!
It is not uncommon for smaller English primary schools to have mixed age group classrooms. In Vygotsky's view, mixed age groupings are beneficial to children as they promote learning through the Zone of Proximal Development.

In mixed age settings, the older child who has completed the task before acts as the teacher to the younger or more inexperienced child. This is beneficial to both children, as the older child reinforces tasks that they have learned and the younger child is assisted in learning a new task.

Even in our sessions here, we complete a lot of group work. We are all in our Zone of Proximal Development whenever we work together!
Many aspects of Vygotsky's theory are utilised in early childcare and other education settings today. Vygotsky stressed the importance of past experiences and prior knowledge in making sense of new situations or present experiences, which connects to his ideas on the Zone of Proximal Development and scaffolding in the classroom.
As Wood et al (1976) communicated, if a child is succeeding at a task then adult assistance can be reduced.  Similarly if the child is struggling then greater assistance needs to be provided.

Crossing the ZPD is essential to Vygotsky’s theory.  This can only be accomplished with help from MKOs (more knowledgeable others). So what is the role of the child care teacher?
Peer Tutoring and the MKO
in the Classroom Today
The MKO is anyone who has a better understanding of a task, or a higher ability level than the learner. The MKO is not always the child care teacher. It can be a peer, a younger person, or even a computer. These MKO's raise the learner's competence through the Zone of Proximal Development.

For example, in a child care setting, a child who has played a game before can be the MKO of a child who has not.

Many aspects of Vygotsky's socio-cultural theory are also evident in the classroom today, such as imitative learning, instructed learning, and collaborative learning (Tomasello, et al., 1993).
“Do you see a piece that might fit here?” the teacher asks the 2-year-old, pointing to an empty space.

The child looks at the pieces but doesn’t find the right one.

“Look over here,” the teacher says, indicating three pieces. “Can you find it now?”

The child chooses and correctly places the piece. She smiles with pride, “Look, I did it!”
Child Care Today:
It is important that the child does not become bored or frustrated, as they will lose interest in completing a task. According the Vygotsky's theory, scaffolding is the perfect method to reduce boredom and frustration.
Tasks that are set for the child need to be pitched at the right level. Tasks that are too difficult are outside the child’s ZPD, and regardless of the amount of help in the form of scaffolding, the gap can not be bridged. If the task is too easy the child will not be motivated.

Research Jerome Bruner who further developed Vygotsky's scaffolding theory and extend this research to provide an explanation that explains scaffolding to:
• show an accurate understanding of scaffolding
• how scaffolding children’s learning can support mathematical understanding.

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