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Learning Theories

Developmental Theories and Learning Theories


Children grow through a series of natural and predictable flow of developmental milestone from one stage to another. Robert is in the middle childhood age implying that he had gone through major developmental stages in his earlier life in physical, social, cognitive, emotional and language development. However, it is important to note the gap in Robert’s life and the set stages of development learnt from his current behavior in social set up and classroom setting. This essay aims at describing developmental theories and learning theories that are relevant in explaining Robert’s predicaments. The developmental theories include social, cognitive, physical and psychological developmental theories in the life of children[ CITATION Zho15 l 1033 ][ CITATION Lov14 l 1033 ]. Interestingly, developmental theories are intertwined with the learning theories as they influence growth and learning concurrently.

Robert’s case presents developmental issues that are detrimental on his learning experiences. For children to successfully move to the subsequent developmental stage the fulfilment of the current stage essential. The failure to successfully meet the demands of one developmental stage culminates into challenges in other subsequent stages[ CITATION Bat13 l 1033 ][ CITATION Mar16 l 1033 ]. It is evident from Robert’s case that he is unable to socially connect with the peer despite being in the middle childhood age. He is facing the challenge of social and emotional growth that dictates emotional maturity that enables children to settle frustrations and deal with social conflicts. In this context, there is the inadequacy in the development of self-control essential to shape sense of capability and achievements[ CITATION Der15 l 1033 ][ CITATION Hor14 l 1033 ]. In the critical thinking, logical reasoning, autonomy in thinking and organizational skills is among developmental issues cognitively affecting Robert’s learning.

Despite the growing independence from parents in this middle childhood age, it is important to mention the required sense of security from the parents and the offering of help in the process of choosing of role model[ CITATION Pre14 l 1033 ][ CITATION Hei16 l 1033 ]. However, at this age children are exposed to social connections with the peer as learning occurs through imitation and copying from others. The failed interpersonal relationship seen with Robert in playground and classroom set up is attributed to low self-esteem. The developmental issue is the inferiority and inability to define himself as his peers and lack of strong sense of group identity and loyalty[ CITATION Sco16 l 1033 ][ CITATION Hey15 l 1033 ]. However, the change in environment displays the possibility of social developmental issue due to the perceived relationship between the previous environment and the current creating anxiety in adopting the new situations.

Consequently, developmental theories and their implications are interdependent with the learning theories. According to Erik Erickson’s psychosocial theory of development, middle childhood age entails industrious versus inferiority conflicts where children become capable of performing complex tasks[ CITATION Ray13 l 1033 ]. At this stage child’s peer group gain importance and become the major contributor to the child’s source of self-esteem. Besides, children gain confidence to take initiatives towards achieving their goals[ CITATION Sir16 l 1033 ]. However, teachers and parents are relevant in the learning of specific skills such as solving problems logically. However, Piaget argues that children learn to adapt to their environment through their ability of cognitive adaptations[ CITATION Bar15 l 1033 ][ CITATION Mül13 l 1033 ]. In his cognitive development theory, Piaget stresses that during concrete operational stage children gain the understanding of mental operations logical thinking but experience difficulty in understanding hypothetical aspects. In this concept, the child fairy employs inductive logic but may struggle to use deductive logic.

Children develop skills, values and relationships with age mates and other significant people according to Freud’s psychosexual developmental theory at the latency stage[ CITATION Lud14 l 1033 ]. During this stage, children become more connected with peers, hobbies, intellectual pursuits and social interactions which are relevant for the development of social and communication skills. In the social-cultural theory of Vygotsky, learning has a basis in interacting with other people[ CITATION Mah12 l 1033 ]. He further argues that development occurs on the social level and individual level. Additionally, he proposes that children are born with biological constraints that entail the tools of intellectual adaptations. In this context, one culture emphasize on certain learning strategies different from the other culture.

Learning theories such as cognitive development and social development theories are applicable in the classroom set up to enhance the learning process in the bid to address barriers to learning[ CITATION Sim13 l 1033 ]. The educators employ the developmental theories in understanding the potential abilities of different children as each stage of development presents a prerequisite for the next stage. Piaget’s cognitive theory is relevant in teaching-learning process as it argues that children are active participants in the learning process[ CITATION Car15 l 1033 ]. Children are therefore viewed as busy, motivated explorers whose thinking is shaped by environment using their eyes, ears and hands thus advocating for social interactions in the classroom setting.

Peers and classmates play a significant role in the process of learning through the industrious and inferiority stage of development. In this context, play and academic work contribute to the development of self-concept and sense of competency[ CITATION Rog13 l 1033 ]. It is during the interaction with the peers that children discover their potentials and require support from parents and teachers. Having slowly expanded their radius of activity beyond the family, the child develops control over their connections with other people by the differentiation of intrinsic and extrinsic life, portrayed in an ability to act strategically. Therefore, for the development of a positive nurturing environment in the classroom, the theories are essential in providing tools and principles such as learners-teachers conference, strategies to increase learner’s participation and removal of negative stimuli from the learning environment[ CITATION Wel15 l 1033 ].


To sum up, children grow through a series of natural and predictable flow of developmental milestone from one stage to another. The developmental theories include social, cognitive, physical and psychological developmental theories in the life of children. Interestingly, developmental theories are intertwined with the learning theories as they influence growth and learning concurrently. The learning and development in these theories are based on the premises that nature and nurture plays a major role in cognitive and social growth.


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