The Importance Of Lev Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory Of Learning

The concept of transition is almost always supported by the theories of child development, as development is at the foundation of, and the prime objective of early childhood education. Children make transitions from different marked situations in their lives. In this article, we will be looking at Lev Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory of learning and development.

Development is a process of growth that an individual experiences in his/her life right from childhood. Simply put, development is the change or transformation an individual goes through. It is a process of moving from one stage to another in a sequential manner, and the nature of development it is associated with and is dependent on a specific age.

In this article:

  1. The Social Cultural Learning Theory by Lev Vygotsky
  2. Similarities in Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories of Learning
  3. The Scaffolding Method of Teaching
  4. Socio-cultural Factors Influencing Learning

The Social-Cultural Theory of Learning by Lev Vygotsky

Lev Vygotsky’s Socio-cultural Theory of learning emphasises that learning in a child (or individual) is essentially a social process, and involves the support of parents, caregivers, peers and the society at large. It further adds that culture plays a crucial role in the development of a child’s higher psychological functions.

Since culture plays an important role in learning, the goals associated with a child’s learning process will be different across various cultures, as the history of communities and their respective historical periods differ.

The importance of Lev Vygotsky socio-cultural theory of development lies in the fact that it considers that the learning that happens in a child as an outcome of the social interactions as the highest point of knowledge. It basically emphasises that learning in a child has to largely do with the environment in which he/she is in. It can be within home (nuclear or joint family), farm or the preschool setting, among others.

Similarities in Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories of Learning

In fact, both Vygotsky and Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist known for his work on the Theory of Constructivism, regarded children as active learners from their surroundings, and are always engaging themselves actively in their environment and situations around.

While Vygotsky focused on the social and cultural aspects of learning in a child, Piaget dealt with the construction of one’s own knowledge through one’s own experiences.

As per Vygotsky’s theory, transition between learning and development occurs in what is called, the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). It is the difference between what a child can do without help and what the child can do with help or support rendered.

The Scaffolding Method of Teaching

The help or support rendered can be in the form of instructions from parents, teachers and peers. The assistance received by the child from his/her peers and adults develop into a new goal, and this process is called Scaffolding.

Scaffolding is how adults support children’s learning and development by providing just the right and necessary help at just the right time in the most appropriate way. While Scaffolding is typically demonstrated with older children, adults’ regular interactions right from the day of birth are making infants and toddlers observe and scaffold-learn all the time.

Socio-cultural Factors Influencing Learning

Similarly, children’s participation in cultural and societal aspects, guided by the adults, will help them gain new skills. The participation in cultural and societal aspects can be so impactful, that it in fact helps them to mature in their approaches of problem solving and critical thinking skills, among others.

The impact of socio-cultural experiences and interactions are clear indicators that children transition from one level of thinking to the next with the support and help of adults and peers.

Transition, in behavioural terms, can be seen as the way in which children can visibly and explicitly be seen change their behaviours according to the new perception which are gained through cultural and social interactions.

Transition, in behavioural terms, is the visible change in a child’s behaviour, which is an outcome of the new perception gained by him/her that is gained through cultural and social interactions.


The critical takeaway from Lev Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory of learning, is that every individual, be it the young, the old or the old and elderly, are all influencers of learning in children – either directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly.

As discussed many times: Children learn what they see, and this includes not only what they see at home, but also at school, family gatherings, social gatherings, cultural gatherings and traditional gatherings, among others.

It therefore becomes the responsibility of every adult, irrespective of their age, to be aware and responsible when they are in an environment where young children too are present, especially those below the age of 11.

Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.