Ecological Systems Theory, Urie Brofenbrenner
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Keywords: urie brofenbrenner ecological systems theory
The ecological systems theory of human development is proposed by Urie Brofenbrenner, a Russian American psychologist. In this theory, he stated that everything in a child and also the surrounding environment can affect the child development (Oswalt, 2008). He also developed this theory to comprehend the relationship between the child, the family, teachers, and the society (Growth and Development Theory, 2013). This ecological systems theory is divided into few different levels which are micro system, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem. The first level is micro system which is the small immediate environment that is directly connected to the child (Sincero, 2012). As an example, a child has the closest relationship with his parents and family which also can influence the child's development mentally or physically. The relationship between the child and the teachers, friends or also neighbours is also considered to be in the micro system.
Next, mesosystem includes the interaction between two microsystems such as the relation between the child's home and the school (Growth and Development Theory, 2013). Exosystem is the level which includes other people and also places that may have no direct interaction with the child but still affects the child's development like his parents' workplace, the neighbourhood or even the extended family members (Oswalt, 2008). Macrosystem is a larger level consists of the cultural contexts like ethnicity or other influences such as economic influences and cultural influences (Sincero, 2012). Every environmental event and transitions occur in an individual's life is included in the chronosystem (Sincero, 2012). The events such as marriage, divorce or others that can affect someone's life are the examples of this system.
1.2 How does Urie Brofenbrenner's ecological systems theory affect the child development?
As I have already explained before about this ecological systems theory by Brofenbrenner in the previous page, this theory can actually affect the child development. According to Doll-Yogerst (2011), this model of the ecological systems recognizes that a child's development is affected by the settings and also affects the surrounding in which he spends his time every day. The relationship of the child and the microsystem can also give impact in both directions which is being called as bi-directional influences (Doll-Yogerst, 2011). For example, a child's parents may affect his behaviour or belief but he can also affect his parents' behaviour or belief. Particularly, his family is the most essential setting because he spends his time mainly with the family and it has the most influence on him especially the emotion (Doll-Yogerst, 2011). This situation shows that a child's development is influenced the most by his family, if one of his parents is working as a doctor and he understands it as doctors are good people since they help others, it may gives him the idea to be just like his parent in the future.
There are also other important settings that may influence the child's development such as his extended family, teachers, peers, child care centre, school, and preschool or kindergarten (Doll-Yogerst, 2011). These settings are directly interacting with the child because he will encounter his teachers when he is at the school, or playing with his peers in the neighbourhood. The child's development is based on how he experiences while spending time in all these settings (Doll-Yogerst, 2011). It is can be seen in the situation where the child may have stumbled upon a bad experience while playing at the playground that will probably make him to avoid playing at the playground anymore or even good experiences he has that will affect his development.
Other than that, a child involves in many microsystems (Bronfenbrenner's Microsystems, n.d.). Each of the microsystem interacts with each other which also can be called as mesosystem. The number of quality interactions between settings also has important implications for a child's development (Doll-Yogerst, 2011). For instance, the parents and the teachers at school are both considered as microsystem from the child's point of view. These two microsystems will interact with each other in such situation like parents-teachers conference that usually being held in school. The child probably acts differently in school than at home since he is surrounded by his peers. If the child is having any difficulties or problems at school, the teacher will tell the problems to his parents so that they will acknowledge how their child is doing at school. This interaction between both parties is important that will reflect on the child's development.
The other external environments that may have indirect connection with the child but still give huge impacts on him are included in the exosystem level (Doll-Yogerst, 2011). This exosystem level is when the settings that may be unknown to the child for example the parents' workplace or colleagues will affect his growth. It can be exemplified in the situation when the parents coming back home with the stress that they get at their workplaces that will influence the child's thoughts (Doll-Yogerst, 2011). Besides that, the government, the economical factors, the mass media can also affect the child's development. For instance, the child is influenced by the animation series on television that leads him to follow what the characters are doing. The largest system in this theory is the macrosystem which consists of the most remote of people and things to a child nevertheless still has a great influence for the child (Oswalt, 2008). This includes cultural values, customs and laws (Ecological Systems Theory, n.d.). As an example, the child has been raised by following the national laws that drugs are illegal or murder is a crime that will make him obey and acknowledge which is wrong and which is right. The events that happen during the transitions over a lifetime are called chronosytem, which means everything happens in a child's life while he is growing up that may changes his perception.
1.3 How does Urie Brofenbrenner's ecological systems theory apply children in preschool and early primary levels.
The ecological systems theory is somehow applied to the children in preschool and early primary levels. Horowitz-Degan claims that the child's behaviour can be analyzed by using the environmental influences, as well as the cognitive factors (as cited in Bronfenbrenner's Ecological, n.d.). This situation can be seen in preschool or primary school, where the class acts as the microsystem that will give influences to the child. As an example, if a teacher walks into a classroom brightly, it will automatically sets up the mood of the classroom to be warm and friendly which will positively affect the child's cognitive sphere of influence then next encourage the process of learning (Van-Petegem, Creemers, Rossel, and Aelterman, 2005). For instance, a teacher teaches the students excitedly and happily in the classroom, the students will have more interest to listen to the teacher because they have been influenced by the positive vibes from their teacher. In addition, Van-Petegem defines that the teacher's behaviour can also affect the students and can be a model for the consideration of the feelings of others and the value of interactions (as cited in Bronfenbrenner's Ecological, n.d.). This shows that this ecological systems theory gives effect on the child's social development in mircosystem which also can be increased through the encouragement given by the teacher.
Furthermore, in the preschool centres or primary schools, there will be a playtime provided that will develop the motor skills development in the children (Brofenbrenner's Ecological, n.d.). Activities such as creating craft, indoor arts like drawing, colouring or painting can also help in the growth of the students' motor skills. While in the classroom, the students will be given the opportunity to speak up their opinions that may give influence to the other students who are listening to the opinions and it will help them in the intellectual development. This is because the students will start thinking about the opinions and try to relate to the knowledge that they already have. If there is an argument happen in the class, the students will try to convey their thoughts to the teacher that will also give a huge impact to them intellectually since they use their minds to counter the argument. Besides, the issues associated with the adults who are involved in the effect of the child's microsystem despite of the child have no direct connection to the exosystem (Brofenbrenner's Ecological, n.d.). If the parents are having problems at the workplace, it will influence the child at home. Parents may be spend more time on solving their work issues that probably make the child feels that he is being ignored which affects his emotional development. The development of children will also be affected in the macrosystem even though it is the largest layer of ecological systems theory (Brofenbrenner's Ecological, n.d.). In this level, the child is influenced by the cultural values that give impact on the social development.
1.4 Summary of Urie Brofenbrenner's ecological systems theory.
To sum up, the ecological systems theory by Urie Brofenbrenner does apply to child development including the children in preschool and early primary levels. This theory helps the children in intellectual development, emotional development and especially, the social development. Each of the levels in the ecological systems model, microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem, interact with each other to help the child's development. As adults, we need to observe how the child is growing and we need to bear in mind that everything in a child's surrounding has the probability to influence their growth. Parents should be more concern about their child's microsystem in school and spare more time communication with them and not only focusing on work or career.