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Lev Vygotsky and Bruner’s Theory of Cognitive Development in Children Essay Sample 

Vygotsky and Bruner were child psychologists of their time and their main focus was on the cognitive development of minds. Both followed a very similar concept of the sociocultural approach towards the cognitive development of a child.

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In this essay writing, we will highlight the cognitive learning of children by Vygotsky and Bruner’s development theory. It will cover the models of representation of cognitive development in a child, language skills, social interaction, impact on child’s development, and drawbacks of their theories.

Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural approach of cognitive development in children 

The sociocultural approach of cognitive development in children helps them to enhance their social skills and behavior. This theory mainly focuses upon cultural values, societal influences, beliefs faiths, and communication.

The child’s development of psychology, growth of the children, and their learning development depend upon the social elements of the environment. So, Lev Vygotsky developed an approach of sociocultural theory for cognitive development in children.

Some of the important key features of Vygotsky’s theory of development are:-

  • Culture plays an important role in the development of the cognitive minds of children. Cultural practices are variant and have a social influence on the behavior of children. It includes traditions, family values, community values, social norms, and social practices prevailing in society.
  • Social interaction plays an important role in the learning process of children. Learning within the proximal development as a child promotes their growth. Social interaction and communication are considered to be important elements of the cognitive development of children.
  • Language and speech are important criteria for developing the minds of children. Language helps in the transmission of thoughts and effective communication causing mental development of children.
  • Adults as a source of cognitive development in children. They have better knowledge, skills, and experiences in life which helps the children to be socially adaptive.

Zone of Proximal Development in children

This is a very important concept under Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development in children.

This concept focuses on the difference between a child’s active learning independently and learning with a mentor or partner. It can be guidance and support from the side of a guardian or parent to help children learn and develop.

Example of Proximal Development Zone in a child’s development

A child may be incapable to solve a mathematical algebric equation but with the help and guidance of a guardian he could solve such problems and develop competency.

This example above shows that a child could perform better in the company of a skilled and knowledgeable person. Skills in a social environment and not in isolation falls within the proximal development of children.

As a child becomes more independent the guardian allows him to work independently. Parents could teach children some important steps and strategies to solve mathematical equations. They can encourage them to solve such problems independently from the next time. This improves the child’s confidence and social development skills by involving cooperation. Children can also be encouraged by their teachers to develop their social skills within the Proximal Development Zone.

The principle of Vygotsky’s work is based on: More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) and Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

Language skills and Vygotsky’s theory of development 

Language is an important skill for effective communication and social interaction in children and adults. Adults help in the transmission of knowledge and experiences to children. Language includes verbal and nonverbal speech for effective communication of thoughts.

Vygotsky’s theory includes social speech which is an effective source of external communication with others. Secondly, it includes private speech which is a kind of self-talk to oneself. It gives self-reflection of thoughts and self-direction to intellectual function. Thirdly it includes silent inner speech. It is a nonverbal expression of thoughts that is not communicated to others. This transition takes place after the 7 years age group.

Children have clarity of thoughts, collaborate well, helps planning activities strategies for their social learning development and self-regulation of behavior. Private speech has a correlation with the performance of children. Children engaged in private speech have better problem-solving abilities, imagination skills, awareness, and thinking abilities.

Drawbacks of Lev Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development in children 

  • This theory lacks observation and testing skills. Vygotsky mentioned that social interaction is an important aspect of learning and growth in children but methods are not mentioned. Definition of social skills and environment is mentioned without highlighting the methods to achieve it.
  • Social learning is associated with cognitive growth. Learners acquire knowledge through active involvement and participation. Children are slow learners and have a slow-paced cognitive ability but this factor has not been counted in Vygotsky’s theory.
  • Social interaction helps in cognitive abilities may not be true for introverts. Training and development cannot even help them to develop cognitive skills of development. Genetics has not been considered as a factor in the cognitive abilities of a child. Other than social influences, the age of a child also decides the learning development process. Vygotsky never elaborated on this concept.
  • Social-cultural influence is not equal on every child as societies and their cultural value is different at every place.

Bruner’s Theory of Cognitive Development in children 

Bruner was a child psychologist who studied the mindset of children and their behavior. Key features of Bruner’s Child Development theory are:-

  • The syllabus was constructed to enhance the problem-solving skills of children and help them to learn through self-discovery.
  • Children can self inquire and question concepts and can learn through their own practical experiences of their life.
  • It takes into account the child’s point of view and the syllabus is constructed on the basis of the level of understanding of children.
  • Culture plays a pivotal role in shaping the views and intellectual development of children.
  • Children are capable of understanding subjects at any age under a spiral curriculum.

Models of Bruner’s Cognitive Representation in children 

This model of Bruner’s cognitive development in children is divided into three stages. First is the enactive stage of development which is a representation of actions. The second is image-based learning and the third is the symbolic use of words and language to share experiences.

Enactive Stage of Cognitive Development in children (0-1) age group

This is the first stage of cognitive development in children. The child does a particular action knowing what it would result or outcome. He represents thoughts through his physical actions. He is not knowledgeable enough and aware to understand and differentiate between good and bad action. It is an object’s storage of information and the internal representation of the same.

Example of Enactive Stage of Development

Child playing with a toy train gets happiness and pleasure from it’s sound. So, in the next attempt aswell the child will play with the toy train to get sound and pleasure out of it like the last time. He will do that with the expectation of drawing same amount of pleasure this time but the case may not be so if the battery dies. He has no specific understanding of internal representation of the playing object.

Iconic Stage of Cognitive Development in children(0-6) age group 

This age group of children has an understanding of the internal representation of objects presented externally to them. He already has a preconceived image of the object in his mind.

Example of Iconic Stage of Development

Child drawing a picture of a house already has an image of a real house in his mind and he externally represents it on a drawing paper.

Symbolic stage of Cognitive Development in children (7 years and above) age group

Information is stored in the form of language, words, or symbols about a particular object.

The word “Lion” represents a class of animal. Images of lion and word ‘lion’ can be classified in this stage of development.

By this age, children already learn language and words and can organize them. Language and symbolic representation play an important role in the cognitive development of children.

A child’s poor language and communication skills can lead to inefficiency. Learner in this stage has the opportunity to directly manipulate the external objects and can represent them in their own way.

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