Cognitive Theory and Developmentally Appropriate Experiences

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Cognitive Theory and Developmentally Appropriate Experiences Piaget and Vygotsky both believed that young children actively learn from their hands-on, day-to-day experiences. Jean Piaget portrayed children as "little scientists" who go about actively constructing their understanding of the world. His theories hold the essence of developmentally appropriate curriculum since Piaget believed that children undergo cognitive development in a stage-based manner, such that a very young child would not think about things the same way that an adult might. He referred to the knowledge and the manner in which the knowledge is gained as a schema. In order to build on the cognitive stages that children experience, informal learning opportunities, formal instructional sessions, and the utilized curriculum must all dovetail with a child's current cognitive stage so that assimilation of the new knowledge may occur. Working with what the child knows and experiences, parents and teachers create bridges to the next cognitive stage that are characterized by the child's accommodation. Piaget argued that optimal learning took place in this manner and that adults should avoid thinking that they can accelerate a child's development through the age-based, maturity-referenced stages. This is because a child works toward establishing an equilibrium between the assimilation and application of new knowledge and changing their behavior to accommodate their newly adopted schemas. Vygotsky's
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