In terms of what the zone of proximal development is I believe that it is the gap between what you are capable of learning and what you actually learn. I believe that the theory of proximal development deals with the fact that you have a mental age as well as an actual documented age. When thinking of zone of proximal development I think of it as children can only know so much at one time. As they grow older their mind allows for more information to enter their mind. When learning in school (especially in elementary school) there were always those kids that things seemed to come easy to. They didn’t seem to even try that hard and would always receive A’s on everything they did.
During the week I work a nursery school with children ages two to six. In Indiana it is not required for children to attend preschool or any schooling prior to elementary school. As you can assume, the day care often has trouble attracting parents to send their children to their school. One thing that they really emphasize at the school is that the children learn socially and that they learn through play. I think that this is very important and relates back to the zone of proximal development because the children are introduced to basic skills such as reading, writing, and math long before elementary school ever starts.
In my own learning, I remember I really struggled with reading when I was in the first and second grade. No matter what teaching strategy was used or how interesting the books were, I just could not get the concept of reading down. Maybe it was because I was not yet at the right mental age for that to happen. Math came easily though. I was exposed to a number of things so I do not know what the excuse really was in terms of why I struggled so much.
My question is how do you help with a child’s zone of proximal development? Is there a way to help them reach the next required level? If exposed to enough things will they surpass their peers and do exceptionally well in school? As a teacher, I want to make sure that all my students reach their full potential. If one of my students is struggling because they are not on the same developmental level as everyone else how do I fix that?