3.5 Using Theory in Practice

Theories matter because they inform our practice. When we stop to evaluate if a literacy activity seems appropriate for the age and stage of the child, we are grounding our practice in a theory (Piaget/Frith). When we set up our classroom with learning stations to encourage children to learn language from one another, we follow a theoretical construct (Vygotsky/Clay). When we stop to ask about the environmental influences on the family and, subsequently, the child’s language development, our practice reflects our understanding of the factors that Bronfenbrenner and Friere spoke about. Understanding the theoretical frameworks that guide our practice helps us to be more effective and intentional in the classroom.


Children learn language when interacting with each other and the classroom materials.

Pause and Reflect: Theory to Practice

As you prepare and engage in your learning environment, what do you take into account? How do you think about the ages and stages of the children? How do you think about the wider context? How do you incorporate the voices and influence of children and families? How do you think about ways to foster interaction among children who are very experienced with a concept and those that are less experienced? Are these approaches contextual, cooperative, or constructivist? How can you use theory to understand what is occurring with a child, and how will you apply this understanding to your practices?

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The Early Literacy Journey: Supporting and Celebrating Young Learners Copyright © 2024 by Sandra Carrie Garvey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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