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Development and Frameworks

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Piaget’s theory of learning for cognitive development says children create a schema based on their experiences, when something unexpected happens to the child, the child will adapt the schema to include the new information. Based on this theory early years schools have a child centred teaching approach. Teachers will look at the children’s needs and plan activities accordingly. Piaget’s theory has also influenced the way professionals manage children’s behaviour. For example the rewards or incentives system for good behaviour.

Vgotskys theory has had an impact on early works frameworks in England and Scotland. He stressed the importance of social learning both by caregivers and peers. He believed that children learnt through interaction. Frameworks support this by encouraging children to work together to complete tasks. Teachers will work alongside children but will also challenge their thoughts and opinions in order to develop them into maturity.

Behaviourist approach to development suggests that children learn through conditioning; new behaviours are learnt from past experiences and that all learning is influenced by rewards and punishments. Pavlov and Watson researched classical conditioning and found there was a link to rewards, punishments and behaviour. This research has enabled professionals to understand children’s phobias and obsessive compulsive disorders. Operant conditioning focuses on exploring the environment and learning the consequences of behaviour whether good or bad. Skinner found that children need frequent positive reinforcement as this helps them learn good behaviour until it becomes automatic. Professionals use operant conditioning on a daily basis. It is common practice to reward a child for good behaviour and if a child is displaying a destructive behaviour often the most effective way of combatting it is by ignoring the behaviour completely.

Social Learning Theory by Bandura has been influential in how professionals support children as it incorporates observational learning. Children will often copy adults or other children without any positive reinforcements. In practice professionals working with children are asked to be a good role model and treat children with respect and not display unhealthy habits such as smoking.

Maslow created a theory of personality that was based on a hierarchy of needs. He suggested that people had basic needs that had to be met before they can fulfil their potential. In practice professionals ensure that they environment they create for children is one that meets basic needs and also professionals strive to build a strong relationship so that children can fulfil their potential.

Attachment theory has shaped day to day practice as professionals particularly in social care recognise that children need a key person that will be consistent and have a strong relationship that will act as a substitute attachment.

Early Years Foundation Framework has set the standards for professionals and it encompasses many elements from different theories. It stresses the importance of basic needs being met first (Maslows theory) and how children are to be supported by adults in direct learning but also learning through socialisation (vgotsky) and how professionals working with young children should make sure activities are child centred (Piaget).

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