Parents from different cultures use different methods to scaffold their children’s learning. The learning process is not limited to specific activities since learning is a universal process that affects every aspect of the children’s life.
Therefore, parents from different cultural background essentially perform various tasks to ensure that their children are well equipped both mentally and physically to survive in the prevailing environment. The children’s future independent performance and development of cognitive skills are primarily determined and affected by the types of guidance provided by the adult in the immediate proximity of a child who is more often than not the parent of the child (Farver, 1993).
Scaffolding is used to illustrate the supportive approaches used by parents to guide children in solving cognitive problems. In this context, scaffolding is used to describe the different kinds of instructional interactions that take place between the children and their parents in informal learning conditions (Rogoff, 1990).
Playing with the children is one of the most significant foundation for learning among young children, where learning of the child basically takes place through observations and associations with vastly skilled and highly developed members of the culture who are within the zone of proximal development (ZPD) of the children and are in most cases the parents(Farver, 1993).
Diverse cultures use simple games such as hide and seek to complex games such as monopoly and jigsaw puzzles which according to Swiss psychologist Piaget Jean, help the children improve their cognitive abilities through the help of their parents assume a range of roles during mutual play with their children, some roles being socially oriented while others are more didactic (Rogoff, 1990).
Culture is a major component in determining the learning space for children. Most cultures are liberal and allow children from both sexes to generally interact and learn together (Farver, 1993). However, other cultures have social restrictions and taboos which inhibit certain groups of people from interacting (Rogoff, 1990).
Remote societies such as those in Asia and Africa where the roles of both men and women are separate, children learn gender specific tasks (Rogoff, 1990). Boys are supposed to learn from their fathers and other males in society while female children learn the feminine activities from their mothers (Farver, 1993).
Activities such as cooking, washing, foraging and other domestic chores which are considered feminine in many traditional societies are taught to young girls (Rogoff, 1990). Furthermore, children may be barred from learning certain behavior due to cultural beliefs, education which could be useful in early life but only transferred during or after puberty. Culture can therefore be considered as a hindrance or a source of child learning depending on the candidness of the people (Farver, 1993).
The environment determines the type of learning children have to receive due to the prevalent factors. Children therefore learn through what is around them because the direct environment is the one that determines the type of lifestyles communities live (Rogoff, 1990).
Activities such as hunting, fishing and gathering are taught by the fathers to the male children but the engagement of the activities in their entirety is determined by the environment. It is for this reason that children living in the Kalahari have no use for fishing skills whereas children in Japan never learn hunting (Rogoff, 1990).
The individuals that teach the children are also found within the children’s environment, and some of the individuals may be indirectly involved in the learning of the child since a child aspires to be like a certain individual but has no direct contact with them. The child therefore subconsciously copies the behavior of their role model which is learning (Farver, 1993).
Language has a role in the learning of a child as far as oral teaching is concerned. In order for an orator to connect with the audience, the language has to be eloquent and appealing.
Some of the cultures through out the globe have monotonous languages which causes a learner to quickly lose interest in a conversation (Rogoff, 1990). Some cultures have limited words while others have no names for emerging or existing animals or objects. This makes it difficult for children to understand the exact influences in their surroundings.
Stories and riddles are used to scaffold children’s learning and this is applied in almost all cultures. In most cultures, children are told stories before bed time either by reading to them or through oral narration (Farver, 1993). This is essential because with reference to Piaget Jean, it expands the imagination and creativity of the children since children have to mentally create similar scenarios to those of the stories.
Riddles, which are not as common as stories, help in improving the cognitive and reasoning abilities of the children. Songs are also language oriented and play a major role in children’s learning (Farver, 1993). Songs are especially common due to the fact that they are memorable and have the potential to carry a variety of educational messages for the children (Rogoff, 1990).
Parents have a major role to play as far as the learning of their children is concerned. Children obtain most of their social skills and attitudes from their parents thus it is vital that parents equip the children with the necessary knowledge and skills in order for the children to fit into society and also exist comfortably in the world. Cultures together with environment are heavily involved in the overall learning of the children and language is the determinant of how well knowledge is passed.
Farver, J. (1993). Cultural differences in scaffolding pretend play: A comparison of American and Mexican mother-child and sibling-child pairs. New York: SUNY Press.
Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in Thinking: Cognitive development in social context. New York: Oxford University Press.