Renowned early childhood development theorists like Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, Lawrence Kohlberg and Eric Erickson have each discussed their theory of constructivism and its educational implications in the learning of children.
While Jean Piaget’s is known for his Theory of Constructivism, Lev Vygotsky is known for Socio-Cultural Learning Theory, Lawrence Kohlberg for the Theory of Moral Development and Eric Erickson for the Theory of Psycho-Social Development. All their theories have highlighted about transition and the importance of transition in children from one stage to another.
In this article, we will have look specifically at Theory of Constructivism by Jean Piaget.
The concept of transition is almost always supported by the theories of child development, as development is at the foundation and is also the prime objective of early child education.
Development is a process of growth that an individual experiences in his/her life right from childhood. Simply put, it is the change or transformation an individual goes through. Development is a process of moving from one stage to another in a sequential manner, and the nature of it is associated to a specific age one is age.
Theory of Constructivism by John Piaget
The theories on development is well encapsulated by the Theory on Constructivism by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. According to the Theory of Constructivism, a child or an individual develops one’s own cognition, over time, and progressively transforms from one stage to another.
These transformations are associated with positive interactions between the maturational processes, which happen through a series of the child’s progressive structuring or restructuring of their (life) experiences.
According to Piaget, a child (individual) starts with performing simple tasks, then moves up performing complex tasks, and gradually attain complex or sophisticated capacities in thinking and reasoning – over time.
Piaget also envisaged that these processes are driven by the development of what is called Equilibration.
What is Equilibration?
Equilibration (in Piagetian Theory) is the process by which an individual uses assimilation and accommodation to restore or maintain a psychological equilibrium.
Simply put, it is the process by which an individual takes in information and ideas, and puts in the effort to fully understand the same. (Once understood,) It is followed by the process of settling with or maintaining psychological equilibrium that is devoid of any conflicts in understanding.
He adds that children develop schemas to represent their understanding of the world around them, and they assimilate the new concept into these schemas until Re-equilibration takes place.
Schemas are nothing but a collection of basic knowledge the child has about a concept or entity, that serves as a guide to perception, interpretation, imagination, or problem solving. For instance, the schema of, say a “dorm room” suggests that a study desk, a cot are likely to be part of the scene, and that a window or an electric kettle may or may not be there.
The process of Equilibration is seen in child development as children move from one stage to the next, be it from new born to infancy, infancy to maturation, etc. (and goes on)
During the 1920s, educational literature emphasised on the concept of School Readiness in a child, and was widely promoted by child development specialists. Basically, School Readiness was considered as a (minimum) level of development at which a child (or individual) has the capability to take in a certain level of learning. The level of learning a child can take in was also associated to his/her age.
Since children born across months get admitted to preschool/kindergarten/school at a specific start date in an academic year, the age associated for the capacity of learning is taken as an average.
School Readiness is a concept that is predetermined, and embraces certain linguistic and cognitive skills. Readiness is basically linked to holistic development of a child, and promotes the physical, cognitive and socio-emotional progression in a child; which needs to be sufficiently met to enable children to fulfil the requirements of school.
The theory of constructivism and its educational implications by Piaget is not looked as a stand-alone theory from the perspective of early childhood learning and development.
In fact, the acquiring of knowledge and the equilibrating of the previously gained knowledge with the new (Equilibration) can be further supported in a child, with the socio-cultural theory of learning by Vygotsky.
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