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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 18     Part 1 hands-on experiences in order to construct their own understanding along with teachers who provide support. Consider four-year-old Harold, who finds pinecones on the ground during a nature hike. If his teacher points out the various types of pinecones by tree name, Harold will form a different concept than another child whose teacher points out the sizes of the cones. Vygotsky emphasizes the social context of learning and development. According to his theory, cognitive development is always socially mediated. This means the construction of a person’s thought processes—including remembering, problem solving, and critical thinking—are influenced by social interactions. Two of the main principles of Vygotsky’s work that show the social nature of learning include the “more knowledgeable other” and the “zone of proximal development” (ZPD). The more knowledgeable other is someone who is more skilled or expe- rienced than the learner when it comes to a particular task, process, or con- cept. This person—who may be an adult or peer—adjusts the amount of guidance needed to support a child’s potential level of performance. The more knowledgeable other provides more assistance when the child is chal- lenged and less assistance as the child masters the task. This concept is known as scaffolding, although Vygotsky never used the term. The ZPD is a concept Vygotsky (1978) defines as the distance between the most difficult task a child can accomplish alone and the most difficult task that he can accomplish with help. For example, a preschooler who struggles to put a jigsaw puzzle together alone may be successful with a little guidance from another child or teacher who suggests separating the edge pieces from the inside pieces. The influence of play on development is an important component of Vygotsky’s theory. He thinks play supports the whole child, including children’s emotional, social, and cognitive development. According to Vygotsky, real play consists of dramatic or make-believe play and contains three aspects: “children create an imaginary situation, take on and act out roles, and follow a set of rules determined by specific roles” (Bodrova and Leong 2007, 129). There are specific rules of behavior to follow as a child assumes a role in dramatic play. For example, when a child pretends to be a firefighter, there are definite rules about how to behave that differ from pretending to be a dog. Vygotsky maintains that a child gains self-restraint, or the beginning of self-regulation, by taking on these roles in dramatic play. Vygotsky believes that not only does play support the development of self-regulation, but it facilitates a ZPD for cognitive skills and assists children in separating thought from objects and actions (thinking inde- pendently from what she perceives). COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL