Seven Conditions for Learning in Early Childhood
Professional early childhood teachers, both intuitively and intentionally, use the seven integrated “conditions for learning”—comparisons (induction), surprises (cognitive dissonance), physical experiences, social interaction, play, revisiting, and a sense of competence-to help children expand their learning and build new meanings. Researchers who study the development of young children in a variety of socio-cultural contexts identify these integrated conditions for learning. For example, teachers can help children learn when they figure out what else children might be able to do (the children’s Zone of Proximal Development; Vygotsky, 1978) with teacher support-a process of scaffolding. The term “scaffolding” refers to the teacher’s role in supporting each next step that can help children make progress. It is similar to “guided interaction,” which also views the relationship between teacher and learner as significant (Plowman, Stephen, and McPake, 2010). Therefore, each of the seven conditions for learning involves some perceivable relationship between teacher and children, and the relationship that children might perceive between activities that helps them make meaningful, fresh connections. And teachers who use the integrated conditions for learning are able to simplify activities or offer more challenges as they interact with children.