How Do the Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky Influence Your Everyday Practice in Working with Young Children?

How do the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky influence your everyday practice in working with young children?

In this essay I will look at the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky and reflect on my understanding of their theory in my everyday practice and how it supports my working with children.   Both Piaget and Vygotsky were constructivists and believed that social forces impact on a child’s development.   Piaget a Swiss biologist believed that development preceded learning that children would organically adapt to their environment and learn about the world through their interaction with it.   Whereas Vygotsky was a Jewish Russian, who followed the Marxist regimen.   He wanted an end to discrimination and prejudice, he was a social – constructivist, who believed that learning preceded development and the environment and social forces could restrict a child’s development.   Regardless of which theory is being scrutinised, it is important that I enable an open and flexible approach to my practice. Each child has individual needs and slightly different ways of learning and it is because of this individuality that there will come a time when both theories should be used concurrently, drawing on the benefits and overcoming the limitations of each.

Piaget saw children as developing and thinking differently to adults, Study Topic 4 considers that Piaget (2012, cited in Oates, Craft, Eyres and Browne, p97) saw Schemas as “stored mental representations of a sequence of actions developed as a result of a child acting on the environment”.   He recognised that a child is either ‘assimilating’ a new experience, using an existing schema, or ‘accommodating’, creating a new concept, therefore building a new schema.   An example of this theory being validated within my practice is, when I provided appropriate and inappropriate vessels with a jug of water for the children to investigate. Typically, I would model the behaviour of using an appropriate drinking vessel and both physically...