In the field of child development psychology, the theories of Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky and Jerome Bruner differ in focus. Piaget focuses on active learning, while Vygotsky focuses on social interaction and Bruner focuses on environment. Nevertheless, each agrees that cognitive development is strongly tied to the process of constructing knowledge in a social context.
Piaget's theory states that children's cognitive development goes through four stages of cognition as they actively synthesize new information with current knowledge. Reaching equilibrium between new and current knowledge is key, requiring the child to actively assimilate or accommodate all that is learned. For Vygotsky, thinking and language are key as the child develops through social interactions such as conversing and playing. Still, Bruner holds that environment is key because learning happens through the manipulation of objects.
The distinct theories of Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner have great influence and are taken into consideration on topics regarding childhood education policies and child rearing practices. Despite their differences, they each demonstrate that children learn socially, culturally and environmentally. Furthermore, they all agree that a child's understanding of the world outside of itself differs significantly at each age of development, and that children's thought processes are psychologically different from those of an adult.