Learning and Development in the Early Years

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSES2031034

Semester and Year Offered: 3rd and 4th

Course Coordinator and Team: Monimalika Day (C) and Sunita Singh

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: none


  • Recognize that the development of cognitive-linguistic abilities and emotional wellbeing of young children are anchored in a child’s everyday life experiences and is embedded in the cultural practices of the family and community.
  • Recognize development as an adaptive process and begin to appreciate the significance of different child rearing approaches, and the need to consider the circumstances in which they have emerged.

Learning Outcomes

  • Engage at a deeper level with the theories, conceptual frameworks, and approaches that allow us to explore learning and development from a cultural perspective
  • Document the learning opportunities that young children have in their families and communities and examine how they may influence their development and participation in schools.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Unit I: The Influence of Soiocultural Context on Development and Learning

Is there a universalistic understanding of infancy and early childhood or does the conception of childhood vary in response to its contexts of development? This section explores the cultural imagination of childhood in case of India and other societies. It will critically examine the theoretical underpinnings of childhood studies and ways children learn and grow under multiple ecological influences that get linked to different developmental outcomes. Briefly, it will also discuss the interface between biology, culture and development.

Unit 2: Culture and Social Emotional Development

This unit extends the discussion on ethno theories of childhood to talk about the inner experience of a child. What is the emotional climate around the developing child in everyday life? Students will learn to deconstruct the processes by which childhood is articulated & gets shaped. Consider the role of factors like temperament, ecological factors & unconscious scripts that gets expressed in the developmental trajectories of children and their societies.

Unit 3: Cognitive Processes from a Sociocultural Perspective

Brain development occurs at a rapid pace during the early years and this is a time of intense intellectual development. Learning is a cultural process and can be fully appreciated and facilitated only when viewed in the sociocultural context in which it ocurs. The noted theorist Vygotsky provides valuable guidance on how to study the influence of culture on cognitive processes. This unit will give students to learn his theory in greater depth. Students will be introduced to exemplary ethnographic research studies and teacher inquiry, conducted in India and other parts of the world.

Unit4: Language and Literacy Learning Across Social and Cultural Contexts

unit will focus on the social and cultural contexts of language and literacy learning. Language both reflects and shapes thought and culture. The readings in this unit take into account the multiple pathways of language and literacy learning among children. Across cultures, there are different mediators of language and literacy in the lives of the children who use a diverse range of materials, methods and practices that may or may not be recognized in the classrooms. The implications of these researchers are to explore how the syncretisms of these practices take place and the advantages they could have for the child.

Indicative Reading List

  • Balgopalan, S. Constructing indigenous childhoods: Colonialism, vocational education and the working child.Childhood. 9(1), 19-34.
  • Keller. H (2008). Culture and biology: The foundation of pathhways of development, Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2, 10, 1111.
  • Super, C. M., &Harkness, S. (1986). The developmental niche: A conceptualization at the interface of child and culture. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 9, 545-569.
  • Grossman, K., Grossman,K., Kindler, H. (….). Early care and the roots of attachment and partnership representations in the Bielfeld and Regensburg longitudinal studies. In preparation for K. Grossman., K., Grossman, and E.Waters.(Eds). The power of longitudinal research. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Harkness, S., &Super,C.M. Themes and variations: Parental ethnotheories in western cultures. In Rubin, K. (Ed.), Parental beliefs, parenting, and child development in cross-cultural perspective. New York: Psychology Press.
  • Harkness, S., Super,C.M., Moscardino, U., Rha, J., Sutherland, M.A., Hyun, O., Axia, G. Cultural models and developmental agendas: Implications for arousal and self regulation in early infancy.
  • Kumar, K. (1993). Study of childhood and family. In Saraswati, T. S. and B. Kaur (Eds.), Human development and family studies in India, (pp. 67-76). New Delhi: Sage.
  • Rothbaum,F., Kakinuma,M., Nagaoka,R., Hiroshi, A. (2007). Attachment and amae: Parent –child closeness in the United States and Japan. Journal of cross-cultural psychology, 38(4),465-486.
  • Saraswati, T.S. (2005). Hindu Worldviews in the Development of Selfways: The “Atman” as the real self. New directions for child and adolescent development,105, 43-50
  • Small, M.(1998). Our babies ourselves: How biology and culture shape the way we parent.
  • Anandlakshmy, S. (1982).Growing up in Varanasi. Seminar, 27, 22-25.
  • Aukrust, B. V. (2011). Learning and cognition in education. Oxford: Elsevier
  • Ballenger, C. (1999). Teaching other people's children: Literacy and learning in a bilingual classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Misra, G. (2014) .Knowing in the Indian tradition. In Foundations and applications of Indian psychology by R.M.M. Cornelissen, G.Misra.,S.Verma.
  • Rogoff, B., Mistry, J., Goncu. A, & Mosier, C. (1993).Guided participation in cultural activity by toddlers and caregivers.Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Serial No. 236, Vol. 58(8).
  • Babu, N., &Mohanty, A. K. (2001). Language, theory of mind and cultural construction of knowledge: A review. Indian Psychological Abstracts and Reviews, 8(1). 26 – 37.
  • Bodrova, E. &Leong, D. J. (2007).Tools of the mind: the Vygotskian approach to early childhood education (2nd ed.).
  • Misra, G. (2014) .Knowing in the Indian tradition. In Foundations and applications of Indian psychology by R.M.M. Cornelissen, G.Misra.,S.Verma.
  • Rogoff, B., Mistry, J., Goncu. A, & Mosier, C. (1993).Guided participation in cultural activity by toddlers and caregivers.Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Serial
  • No. 236, Vol. 58(8).
  • Gregory, E. (Ed.) (1997). One child, many worlds: Early learning in multicultural communities. Language and Literacy Series. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life and work in communities and classrooms. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms.Theory into practice, 31(2), 132-141.
  • Mui, S., & Anderson, J. (2008).At home with the Johars: Another look at family literacy.The Reading Teacher, 62(3), 234-243.

Assessment Details with weights:

Class Participation


Reading summary and reflections

30 %

A field based assignment on parental ethnotheories and childrearing practices



Language and literacy practices in diverse cultural linguistic backgrounds