There are many different theories of development that help us to understand children’s behaviour, reactions and ways of learning. All equally important as they influence practice. To begin with there is Piaget’s constructivist theories which look at the way in which children seem to be able to make sense of their world as a result of their experiences and how they are active learners. He also suggested that as children develop so does their thinking. Piaget’s work has influenced early years settings into providing more hands on and relevant tasks for children and young people. In other words the children are ‘learning through play’. Teachers are working out the needs of children and plan activities accordingly.
Vygotsky is another theorist but of cognitive development. Vygotsky suggested that children were born to be sociable and by being with parents and then with friends they learned and gained understanding from them. He suggested that people in early years setting working with children should extend and challenge their thoughts in order for their potential development to be achieved. As well as the need for adults to work alongside children Vygotsky also felt that children could guide and develop each others potential by encouraging them to do tasks together. Evidence of this can often be found in my setting. One example would be reading buddies where children in the infants are paired up with a child from the juniors and they read to their buddy for 10 minutes every day.
The behaviourist approach to learning suggests that behaviour is learned from environmental factors, rewards and punishments. For example if you touched a flame from a candle and it burns you then you learn not to touch a flame again because you know that you will get burned. Behaviourists often call this conditioning. This was demonstrated in John B Watson’s famous experiment where he used a small boy called little Albert and created a phobia of rats in him. This would...
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