The Zone of Proximal Development
There is an interesting concept in education referred to as the “zone of proximal development.” If you present a child with a task that is above her current level of development, she will not be able to do it. But there is a zone of proximal development, a little slice just above where the child currently is. While the child will not be able to do a task in that zone, with the help of an adult, she will be able to do it.
Now that she is in that zone, a new zone of proximal development is created just above it. And she now can be assisted into that zone. That creates another new zone. And so on and so on. Helping the child move up little by little using zones of proximal development is referred to as “scaffolding.”This is why parent participation is a prominent part of the classes for infants and toddlers at Romp n’ Roll. Left to their own devices, the children will progress at a reasonable pace. But their development is significantly enhanced when Mom or Dad is involved in whatever activity they are pursuing.
So whenever you accompany your little one to class, take delight in your role as enjoyable play partner and enthusiastic cheerleader. But give yourself a pat on the back for serving as an important educational facilitator as well.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.