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SYMP 066 - Mediating young children’s language and thinking: A sociocultural lens on cognitive development

1.1 Social, cultural, linguistic and educational mediation
Symposium (Symp)
1:30 PM, Tuesday 29 Aug 2017 (2 hours)
Afternoon Refreshments   03:30 PM to 03:50 PM (20 minutes)
Mediation of young children’s learning and development is a complex interplay of intersubjective, interpsychological interactions within culturally derived sign systems (Vygotsky, 1987). Aotearoa New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum framework Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996) positions learning and development as socially mediated by “people, places and things” (p. 9) within holistic and often non-structured, playful experiences. From this perspective, teachers, children, dialogue, resources and environments are considered mediating tools for extending young children’s language and thinking. The name Te Whāriki translates as ‘woven mat’, illustrative of the curriculum’s integrated, holistic, and open-ended design intended for individual early childhood settings to weave curriculum experiences responsive to their particular place and people. The sociocultural enactment of Te Whāriki requires that adults understand the complex notion of mediation within their contexts.
This symposium explores Vygotsky’s concept of mediation through three qualitative case studies considering the complex roles of adults and context in mediating young children’s language and thinking towards ‘higher mental functions’ (Vygotsky, 1997). Early findings will be presented, focusing on the use of language as a mediating tool in early years contexts.  The case studies are:
1. Mediating teaching strategies that support young children’s development and knowledge creation about science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM).
2. Conceptual mediation through an exploration of how teachers might frame concepts for children’s conscious consideration during storybook reading and extra-textual talk with young children.
3. Language and literacy mediation of young Chinese children in New Zealand across the two activity systems of home and early childhood centre.

University of Auckland
University of Auckland
University of Auckland
University of Auckland
University of Auckland

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