You are on page 1of 1




10:25 AM

Page 359

Chapter 11 The Preschooler: Basic Assessment and Health Promotion


TABLE 11-3
Comparison of Piagets and Vygotskys Theories of Cognitive Development
Piagets Cognitive Theory

Vygotskys Sociocultural Theory

1. Cognitive development is mostly the same universally.

1. Cognitive development differs from culture to culture and

in different historical eras.
2. Cognitive development results from guided participation
or social interactions.
3. Children and adults or more knowledgeable persons or
peers co-construct knowledge.
4. Social processes or interactions with others become individual psychological processes.
5. Adults are important because they know the cultures way
and tools of thinking.
6. Learning precedes development; tools learned with adult
help are internalized.

2. Cognitive development results from the childs independent

exploration of the world.
3. Each child constructs knowledge on his or her own.
4. Individual egocentric processes and language become more
5. Peers are important because children must learn to take
peers perspectives.
6. Development precedes learning; children cannot master
certain things until they have the requisite cognitive

knowledge, languages, problem-solving tactics, and memory

strategies (97). Thereby cognitive development differs between
cultures; some cultures do not demonstrate formal operational
thinking as described by Piaget (1). However, the child, with an
adults help at a new task, expands the zone of cognitive development as the adult questions, demonstrates, explains, and encourages independent thinking or praises a decision or outcome (7).
Refer to Table 11-3 for a summary of Piagets and Vygotskys theories (7, 74, 77, 78, 85, 97, 98).


Emphasize to parents that they enhance the childs growth and
health through the following approaches and their work with the
child. Consider the needs of the family with a challenged child, as well
as the cultural background. The Abstract for Evidence-Based Practice presents a cultural example.
Emphasize to parents that the single most critical factor in the childs
learning is a loving caretaker, because that is who the child imitates.
How the parenting person speaks to, touches, and plays with the child
governs the potential for socialization and cognitive development.
Figure 11-4 shows an example of how the father is teaching
about the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social dimensions to
his two sons.
This is true even for the child who had a low birth weight and
was at risk for developmental lag or disability (7, 8, 46). A childs
problem-solving abilities are shaped by the parents method for
handling problems and by opportunities for problem solving. In
families in which everyone gets a chance to speak out and jointly
explore a problem, the child learns to express logically. In the home,
the child learns how to learn. Teaching the child is more than telling
him or her what to do. It involves demonstration, listening, and
talking about the situation in direct and understandable terms and
giving reasons. Cognitive development includes more than fluency
with words, a good verbal memory, and information. It includes

11-4 Father has an important role in playing with
the preschool child and infant sibling.

ability to use imagination, engage in fantasy appropriately, and enjoy and use art, music, and other creative activities. It includes expanding skills in logical thinking. Most important, it involves
increasing integration of many kinds of brain functions and
branching of dendrites, as described earlier. Much integrated
learning comes from the childs engaging in motor activity, play,
and language games; talking with adults and peers; and paying attention to both trivial and important aspects of the environment
(7, 8, 32, 55, 59, 63, 66, 67, 70).
Television, videotapes, and video games are used extensively and
are meant to captivate children. Children should watch no more than
one hour daily of slow-paced TV before age 6 years, according to the
American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents report an average of
3 1/2 hours daily of TV watching by age 4 years; video time may