Focus will be on Brofenbrenner’s Ecological Model which links development to the child’s various factors in the environment that influence the child’s experiences, learning and growth. The selected developmental stage to be discussed in this paper is the early childhood stage (age 2-6 years). In order to have a clearer picture of early child development, other theoretical frameworks by Piaget, Erikson, Freud, Maslow, Vygotsky and Bowlby shall also be referred to in conjunction with Brofenbrenner’s model as the theoretical framework of this paper. If applicable, the significance of the theory to early childhood children shall be discussed especially if the theory describes certain developmental stages. Brofenbrenner’s Ecological Model (1979) explains that the behaviour and development of an individual is an interplay of the individual’s biological and personality factors, his environment and the society and culture he was born into. Brofenbrenner also claims that effects of interactions between the individual and his environment are two-directional or characterized by reciprocity. This means that while a child’s development is influenced and moulded by his family, school and peers, he likewise influences and moulds the behaviour of others. The growing child moves through five systems that inter-relate and affect his development, namely, the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem. The most basic ecological level is the microsystem, where direct contacts between the child and his immediate surroundings result in behaviours such as dependence or independence and cooperation or competition. An example of this is the home base of the child and his relationship with his family. The pure culture of the society the family lives in greatly influences how the family lives and how the child imbibes the culture as he expresses it in his developing personality. The microsystem is usually where the child first develops attachments to his significant others like his parents. John Bowlby’s (1982) Attachment theory posit that attachment provides children with a sense of security, promotes communication and the expression of feelings and becomes a secure base for children to discover their world and eventually learn self-regulation and self-control. It is a devise that contributes to children’s developing sense of self. Research done by Rudolph Schaffer (1977) and Jerome Bruner (1977) yielded the concept of ‘joint involvement episodes’ (JIE’s) which may be related to the quality of attachment a child and his or her mother or significant other has. The researchers observed mothers’ and their babies’ behaviour while focused on a potential learning episode. While jointly involved in play, for instance, they fall into a turn-taking pattern of behaviour and such cooperation teaches the child about the rules of their play within a safe and secure environment with a familiar adult. This gives him more courage to explore his world knowing he has a safe base to return to. The next level of Brofenbrenner’s Ecological model is the mesosystem, which comprises the linkages and processes that take place between two or more settings with the child in common. A perfect example is how learning in school is supported by follow up lessons in the home. At this level, the child gets to understand associations between people and things.
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Child Development Theories in Focus As evolution progresses, more and more scholars come up with theories of human development. Child development, specifically, is of utmost interest to parents and educators because they want to understand how a child grows in all developmental aspects so they can deal with the changes appropriately and provide the best conditions to meet the growing children’s needs…
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