Cognitive/Social Development of the Elementary Student Essay

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The elementary years are full of major milestones of both cognitive and social development. These elementary milestones as described by Piaget include primarily the concrete operational stage where children develop logical thinking skills including the ability to distinguish personal thinking skills (Bukatko and Daehler, 2012). Elementary educators and care givers have a responsibility to provide and environment rich in play and peer interaction as well as focused on the appropriate zone of proximal development, pushing towards the development of higher level thinking skills. Beginning with play, specifically through "rough and tumble play” young children gain an understanding of social cues as well as contribute to cognitive development…show more content…
Social pretend play promotes cognition, language and social competence. Vygotsky's theory of play states that natural play must contain both an imaginary situation and the voluntarily accepted rules that govern the situation (Pellengrini, 2005). Play beings to look different through elementary school as children’s interactions with one another begin to mature, but communication remains crucial. Peer communication contributes to the achievement of elementary milestones as learning is a shared social activity embedded in classroom interactions. This ideal of social constructivism is supported by one of the pillars of Vygotsky’ theory of sociocultural development, the zone of proximal development (ZPD) (Lecusay, Rossen &Cole, 2008). The ZPD is defined as "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978). The premise of this theory is that students through assistance, can boost their understanding of a skill and gain mastery by first observing, receiving guidance and finally independent practice. This zone represents a stage where students are on the verge of understanding but still not capable, however
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