According to Vygotsky, adults enable children to complete more complex activities than would be possible for children to carry out independently. Children are presumed to gradually internalise aspects of the adult's assistance and in this manner develop independent skills for their own activities. Recent interpretations of Vygotsky's theory have emphasised the need to analyse the social context of instruction in the broadest framework, begin- ning with the general cultural interpretations of the social context, the goal of the particular instructional activity, as well as the instructional strategies used. The present study used these three levels of analysis to study the instructional activities of ten mother-child dyads. The study found a consistent link between what the mothers were doing whilst helping their children, and their interpretative frameworks and goals.