Piaget’s theory of cognitive development indicates that children undergo four different stages of cognitive development. The four stages include the Sensorimotor stage, Pre-operational stage, Concrete operational stage, and the Formal operational stage. Cognitive development starts after birth, when the child starts experiencing sensations in the environment. During the Sensorimotor stage, children learn about their environment through sensory avenues. Some of the common behaviors among toddlers at this stage of cognitive development include listening attentively to noises in the environment, touching objects, banging objects, screaming in excitement, and tasting everything they can lift up to their mouths (Demetriou, Efklides & Shayer, 2005).
The pre-operational stage occurs when children are 1 year old to 7 years of age. The Pre-operational stage children have the ability to understand simple ideas, but they have limited ability to think logically. The behavior portrayed at this stage is mainly pretend-play as the children familiarize with words. During this stage children are easily confused when simple ideas are presented to them in an elaborate way. Between 7 years and 12 years of age, children go through the concrete operations stage of cognitive development.
The concrete operational stage marks the onset of logical thinking in children. During this stage, children have the ability to understand concrete ideas in their environment, but they still struggle with abstract ideas. The formal operations stage is the last stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, and it starts at 12 years through to adulthood. This stage of cognitive development is characterized by rational behaviors in children because they start understanding logical ideas. The children develop an understanding of abstract ideas, and they start reasoning before taking action (Demetriou, Efklides & Shayer, 2005).
Vygotsky’s theory on the zone of proximal development
Vygotsky’s theory on the zone of proximal development highlights the level of cognitive development in an individual. It reveals the range of ideas that a person can understand independently in contrast with the ideas that he or she cannot comprehend independently. This theory focuses on children’s ability to learn through guidance, which translates to their eventual abilities to learn without help. The theory highlights the distance between the highest potential for learning in an individual from his or her immediate level of dependent learning (Levykh, 2008).
The Scaffolding Theory
The scaffolding theory explains the nature of cognitive development in children. The theory claims that the cognitive development in children is dependent on how the first instructions they are given by their caregivers. It indicates that the learning formats acquired by children in their early cognitive development stages influence their subsequent learning stages. The scaffolding theory is a derivative of the Vygotsky’s thought used to develop the theory on the zone of proximal development model (Sanders & Welk, 2005).
Vygotsky’s theories on the zone of proximal development and scaffolding have a relationship in their claims. Both theories indicate that the efficiency in the learning process of a child is dependent on the level of assistance provided to the child. The Scaffolding theory derives some ideas from the Vygotsky’s theory on the zone of proximal development and both theories are instrumental in the development of the best learning conditions for children. Both theories advocate for children to live in learning environments with experts to provide learning instructions (Sanders & Welk, 2005). The attainment of optimal learning level for children is dependent on the parallelism between the skills of the instructor to the needs of the learner.
Demetriou, A., Efklides, A., & Shayer, M. (Eds.). (2005). Neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development: Implications and applications for education. London: Routledge. Web.
Levykh, M. G. (2008). The affective establishment and maintenance of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. Educational Theory, 58(1), 83-101. Web.
Sanders, D., & Welk, D. S. (2005). Strategies to scaffold student learning: Applying Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. Nurse Educator, 30(5), 203-207. Web.