The parent-child-app learning assemblage

Scaffolding early childhood learning through app use in the family home

Authored by: Donell Holloway , Leslie Haddon , Lelia Green , Kylie J. Stevenson

The Routledge International Handbook of Learning with Technology in Early Childhood

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138308169
eBook ISBN: 9781315143040
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Over the last 10 years very young children (0–5) are showing significantly increased patterns of internet use, due primarily to the introduction of touchscreens (Gorzig & Holloway, 2017). The widespread availability of touchscreen devices such as iPads and Android tablets means that previous technologies are being bypassed in terms of their impact upon early childhood (Merchant, 2015). Early literacy practices and modalities are changing through the use of these tablet technologies. These new socio-material practices raise matters of concern and interest for researchers, parents and educators. Research and current teaching practice emphasize the importance of scaffolding in early childhood learning (Berk & Winsler, 1995; Leong & Bodrova, 1996; Soderman et al., 1999), and this now includes children’s engagement with touchscreen technologies (Neumann, 2017; Wood et al., 2016; Yelland & Masters, 2007). New research suggests that teachers and/or parents provide children with three main types of scaffolding when they support their child’s engagement with technology – cognitive, affective and technical. This chapter is informed by posthumanist philosophy to highlight what happens when humans (children and parents) interact with a literacy learning app. While based on Vygotsky’s socio-cultural learning theory’s notion of zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978) and Wood et al. (1976) closely associated notion of scaffolding, this chapter goes beyond analysis of the human interactions (parent and child) to incorporate nonhuman, digital entities within the research paradigm. We argue that new research methods are required in order to adequately describe and research the ways in which early childhood literacy, indeed all literacy learning, is now infused with digital technology. These digital technologies need to be considered as important actants in any child/technology or child/adult/technology assemblage.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.