Children Learning Theories

Children growth and development is a gradual process shaped by the child’s personal character and how these characters interact with the environment to determine how children progress in their milestones such as in speech, physical, social as well as cognitive development.

Numerous theories explain children growth and development as well as the children process of learning. While other searchers view the cognitive development from a heredity point of view other theorist and philosophers, believe that the ability of children to learn is influenced by the children’s environment as well as the people they interact with.

Some of the interesting theories on children development to focus on include Bronfenbrenner’s theory of culture and environment and child development, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky theories of development.

Bronfenbrenner theory

Bronfenbrenner theory of child development revolves around how the environment and culture shape children’s growth and development. Bronfenbrenner established an ecological system to explain the growth and development of children and how the environment influences their growth.

The ecological system includes the microsystem which is the first, followed by meso-system, the third system is the exo-system and finally the macro-system.

The first level

In the first level which is the microsystem children growth and development are independent of the immediate individuals and organization such as family members and school and also the interact between the child and the groups or persons determine how the each react and treat each other.

The second level

The second level is the meso-system whereby the various parts of the child’s microsystem work together to enhance child‘s growth and development. At this level, the theory explains the different aspects of microsystem and how they work to promote children growth and development.

The third level

The third stage is the exo-system whereby other individuals and places that the child does not have direct interaction with influences the child’s growth and development. For example, parents employment where an excellent job opportunity implies a good life for the child and poorly paid or lack of work influence how parents provide for their children which in turn shape their growth and development. Lastly, is the macro-system which is the largest environment that develops child’s growth and development, the macro-system including the culture, economy as well as government stability and wars.

Jean Piaget theory

Jean Piaget theory of cognitive development has three major elements which include the schema, the adaptation processes, and lastly the stages of development.  According to Piaget, the schema is the building blocks in mind based on the child’s experiences, in this case, the child’s understanding and interaction with the environment builds on the child’s past experiences.

Secondly are the elements of the adaptation process, which includes the assimilation stage where children view of new objects is based on already existing knowledge. The second component of adaptation is accommodation whereby children acquire new knowledge to add to the already existing knowledge and lastly the equilibrium stage whereby the child can deal with both the already existing knowledge as well as assimilating other new ideas.

The stages of cognitive development are mainly four which progresses with the child’s development regarding age.

Sensory Motor Stage

The first stage is the sensory motor stage which is from birth to two years, whereby object permanence characterizes the stage where children know that an object still exists despite being out of sight.

Preoperational Stage

Secondly is the preoperational stage which occurs in children between two to seven years, egocentric thoughts dominate this phase of development whereby children can only view an idea or object from their perspective. Additionally, use of symbolisms marks this stage where a word or object can be used to mean something else that is related to the subject matter at hand.

Concrete Stage

Thirdly is the concrete stage which is for children between seven to eleven years and logical thinking differentiates this face where children work with conservation of numbers, weight,  and mass.

Formal Operation Stage

Lastly is the formal operation stage which occurs for children from eleven years to adulthood and is characterized by abstract thinking and using logics to evaluate a hypothesis.

Lev Vygotsky theory

 Lev Vygotsky theory of cognitive development develops from the social interaction principle whereby Vygotsky emphasizes the importance of social interaction and the community in shaping a child’s cognitive development. In this case, the theory argues that cognitive and conscious development is as a result of the social interaction.

Additionally, Vygotsky theory also focuses on the importance of culture in shaping a child’s cognitive development and argues that children brought up in different cultures will differ in how they view ideas and the process of thinking is different for such children. In his theory, Vygotsky highlights the role of more knowledgeable others, whereby, children learn from others people’s behavior and responses to a particular situation.

Additionally, the theory has focused on the concept of the zone of proximal development which differentiates the activities that a child can engage in independently as well as the activities that the child can execute with the minimal guideline.

Based on a personal experience the theory of Vygotsky clearly elaborates how young children learn.

Firstly the approach emphasizes the importance of significant others and more knowledgeable people in shaping the cognitive development of a child. Children learn by observing whereby they observe a more experienced person carry out a duty and they imitate the actions.

Additionally, Vygotsky has emphasized the importance of language in cognitive development as it enables the mind processes. Recently I was watching a young child with playing, and as the child played she did what was imitating her mother, in the play as she was pretending to cook, clean utensil, as well as caring for a doll. From the example, the interaction between the mother and the child has influenced the child’s behaviors and cognitive processes.


Conclusively, children growth and development from one milestone to the other is significantly shaped by some factors such as heredity which-which interact with the environment to shape the child’s traits. Numerous theories explain children learning the process and cognitive development and a common fact is the fact that children learn by doing and through imitation and also the fact that children learn children build on already existing knowledge progressively from one stage to the other.

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