Learning theories are critical for every teacher to keep in mind. While they are theories, they are great guides for teachers. From what I remember reading, research has shown that when teachers use learning theories to guide their teaching correctly, they get positive results.
The following explores how learning theories that naturally promote classroom management both explicitly and implicitly and most importantly offer students a chance to learn in a safe environment that is developmentally appropriate and environmentally stimulating for the young learner ages three to six.
In this essay I will explore three learning theories that would be used to guide the development of mathematical concepts in children ages three to six years old. These theories include the cognitive theory based on Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. As they learn actively in the early childhood environment they acquire concept through actual involvement. Applying this theory in mathematics has led to the use of manipulative material that will enable young children to engage in active learning (Kaplan, Yamamoto,&Ginsberg, 1998).
The second theory I will explore is the social constructivist theory which states that learning is more likely to occur if adults or older children help guide or model young children’s development and learning.(Broody 2000).Theorist Lev Vygotsky believed in this theory he believed that learning is characterized by the child’s ability to problem solve independently as well as under adult or peer guidance. The teacher using this theory has to support learning by creating assistance for children and provide scaffold assistance (Berk & Winsler, 1995). Allowing children to speak and discuss with their peers and also with the teachers.
The third theory is humanism which includes Carl Rogers five learning theories of personal experience, self esteem, realization of self esteem, self development and choice of behavior. It also includes Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs and also Eric Erickson’s theory of development. This theory states that children go through eight different stages in their development and they will be ready for certain concepts at different times in their life because of their brain and psychosocial development. Therefore the early childhood teacher applying this theory must provide a variety of materials and developmentally appropriate choices for the children. Here learning through play can be included. Feelings are also important so teachers should also be concerned about the students’ feelings and not make them feel bad if they did not understand the activity. The child at this stage can play out roles that can create learning opportunities in mathematics through play. During free play time teachers can observe students and discuss and talk about different things for example the size of the blocks in the block area this would be developmentally appropriate to teach the concept of size.