The constructivism approach to learning was based on the ideas of Vygotsky, Dewey and Piaget. It supports the belief that children actively seek knowledge from their environment and the people in it. Children build on their experiences, restructuring and adding to them as they continue to interact with their physical and social world.
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Scaffolding is the process of assisting the child until he can do it independently. This enables the child to take on more responsibility as his skills increase. It is the parent, teacher or other caretaker's responsibility to note if an activity is beyond the child's cognitive or physical capabilities and replace it with a challenging activity that he is able to complete with assistance. Forcing a child to continue with something he can not complete with the teacher's help or doing it for him will not increase his learning. It may cause excess frustration and turn the child off to new ideas.
Zone of Proximal Development
Children seek out adults for social interaction from birth. Through this social interaction, children's mental, language and social development is supported and enhanced. The zone of proximal development requires the adult to lead the child through the learning process. The adult interaction enables the child to complete the task with a more competent person until he is able to complete it on his own. Children should be stretched so that the work is challenging enough to increase their knowledge.
Vygotsky believed that children learnt through play. Make-believe is an important part of the learning process. As children use their imaginations, they must create situations and rules to act out the play scene together. Through mixed age groups and the natural challenges that come with playing with peers and learning to solve problems and get along, the child's zone of proximal development is increased. Teachers and caregivers continue to play a vital role in making sure all children are appropriately challenged.
The communication between the child and teacher or caregiver is extremely important. There are no right answers; rather children are taught using a whole language approach which helps them to develop new concepts while developing higher level thought and critical thinking skills. By understanding each individual child and taking him from that point forward in his education, true educational success and learning can be achieved.
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