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First, I will discuss Lev Vygotsky’s theory in childhood development. Vygotsky, a Russian “psychologist born in the late nineteenth century, gives parents a central role in supporting children’s growth” (Brooks, 2011). His research teaches

Families who play together, stay together

families that every culture is unique in their worldview as are their ways of solving problems (Brooks, 2011).

Father and Son

The emphasis Vygotsky places on parents as partners in their child’s life is crucial as he believed that everything a child learns is through the interactions with “knowledgeable partners” (Brooks, 2011). As we know, a child spends most of their time with their parent(s) during their early development, therefore emphasizing the importance of modeling positive behaviour for the child. Vygotsky’s theory includes an important theory called the “zone of proximal development” which looks at the range of actions a child can perform alone and how a person with a better understanding of the world such as a parent or teacher, can guide and prompt what the child already knows; helping the child to learn more about the world around himself/herself (Brooks, 2011). He also stresses the importance of language in mental development. “Language develops in social interaction…it influences others behaviours…and serves as a guide as to what to do” (Brooks, 2011). In other words, language is something children hear from others around them. By speaking aloud a child is able to direct themselves as to whether an action is positive and should be copied or negative and should not be copied. For further reading on Lev Vygotsky click here. The importance of play and dramatic play for child development is seen in this next video clip. Dramatic play is an example of children using and repeating the language they hear in everyday life from adults and their parents.

The contemporary family can use this theory by understanding the importance of speaking to their children. Different families have different cultural views of the world and how to live in it, but by speaking to their children they can teach their child cultural values. Talking to a child can help guide him or her in a positive direction when the child is first exploring the world. Below is a clip of Vygotsky’s Developmental Theory.

A study conducted by Roth and Lee (2007) examines another branch of Vygotsky’s theory knows as the cultural-historical activity theory. In their research they found that this theory was somewhat neglected but was very interesting for further research involving language, language learning and literacy. More than seven decades ago, “Lev S. Vygotsky noted that (educational) psychology was in a state of crisis because of the ‘atomistic and functional modes of analysis’ … [that] treated psychic processes in isolation” (Roth & Lee, 2007). In this study, Vygotsky’s student began to research more into the activity theory, especially its relationship to schools and learning (Roth & Lee, 2007). It is evident that Vygotsky’s theories are continuously being researched and there are always new findings that can be helpful to parents of young children. As research continues, the information for parents will only increase and it is in a parent’s best interest to do their own research in order to be better equipped role models.

This last video is a great example of how Vygotsky’s theories have been beneficial in the classroom for teachers and children over the years.

Brooks, J. (2011) The Process of Parenting (8th ed.). Toronto, ON: McGraw-Hill.

Roth, W., & Lee, Y. (2007). “Vygotsky’s Neglected Legacy”: Cultural-Historical Activity Theory. Review of Educational Research, 77(2), 186-232. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from the JSTOR database.