Structures That Influence A Childs Development Education Essay

In this paper I will be discussing the bioecological model of human development. “In the bioecological model, development is defined as the phenomenon of continuity and change in biophysical characteristics of human beings”(Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2007, p. 793). The main focus of the paper will be on Urie Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory of human development. “This model provides the “whole picture” of the developing child, encompassing relevant theories within it”(Berns, 2013, p. 16). Bronfenbrenner “looks beyond general developmental patterns; he proposes that researchers examine various ecological settings in which the child participates, such as family and child care, to explain individual differences in children’s development (in this case, cognitive development)”(Berns, 2013, p. 17). The social interactions of a child will determine how that child will grow and what type of adult that child will become. The type of environment a child is brought up in impacts the child’s ability to learn. It effects how they develop intellectually, cognitively, and emotionally. This is also when a child learns his morals and values. Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model of human development has four basic structures. They are the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem. This paper will show how the four structures of human development influence a child’s development.

The first system that influences development is the microsystem. It refers to the “activities and relationships with significant others experienced by a developing person in a particular small setting such as family, school, peer group, or community”

(Berns, 2013, p. 18). This system’s communications are in a close setting of their direct environment and would be considered the most important system of the developing human. “The microsystem is the most influential


system. This is because it is the first time a child interacts with family, schools, and neighborhoods”(Swick & Williams, 2006, p. 374). This interaction occurs for a long period of time. The most significant relationship of the microsystem is family. Once a child is born they spend most of their time with their family. Their family is responsible for giving them a place to live, feeding them, clothing, keeping them warm, changing their diapers, and buying them anything that is needed. When children are still babies the family basically does everything for them. The family provides a child with the essentials child to live but that is not the only important role of a family. How parents teach their children, interact with them, and talk to them is the probably more important. This is what helps a child develop in the world.

There are several different types of parenting styles. The type of parenting style can determine how a child will eventually end up as an adult. Parenting can affect the way a child does in school. It can also affect a child’s mental state. Certain parenting styles can lead children into a life of depression others can lead children into a life of achieving. There are four different parenting styles. They are authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and non-involved.

“Authoritarian parenting is a style of parent-centered parenting characterized by unquestioning obedience to authority is strict and demanding” (Berns, 2013, p. 62). These types of parents expect a lot from their children. This can lead to children having low self-esteem or being depressed. However the children are usually obedient. Perhaps the complete opposite of an authoritarian parenting style would be a permissive parenting style. “Permissive parenting is


a style of child-centered parenting characterized by a lack of directives or authority”(Berns, 2013, p. 62). These types of parents do not ask a lot of their children. They usually act more like a friend than a parent. This parenting style can lead to children that do not do well at school and they may suffer from depression as well. These children might also end up having problems with authority. Their parents never told them what to do so when an adult does show some authority the child acts out because they do not know how to handle it. Some may say the healthiest parenting style is authoritative. Authoritative parents are more democratic. They have rules that they expect their child to follow but if their child breaks these rules they are nurturing rather than punishing. Authoritative parenting style leads to a child being happy, assertive, and successful. The last parenting style is uninvolved. These parents are not involved with their child at all. They may provide their child with the basic needs necessary to survive but the might not even do that much. Children of uninvolved parents lack self-esteem, they do not do well in school, and they may act out in school. Parenting styles have a significant impact on development. The family structure also impacts development.

The nuclear family consists of a husband, a wife, and their children. The nuclear family used to be the most popular but in today’s society not all households are structured this way. Today it almost seems that divorce is the norm rather than the nuclear family. “30% of first marriages end in divorce”(Kallaman, 2012, p.1). Almost everybody knows someone that is divorced. Even though divorce is becoming more of a normal experience that does not make it any easier on children of divorced parents. In a divorce “the children may have to take increased


responsibility for themselves and may have less time available to spend with parents to receive love and security” (Berns, 2013, p.82). Counseling, mediation, custody battles, and fighting are situations that a child might have to face when their parents are going through a divorce. In many occasions there is also a financial consequence. Usually the mother receives custody of the children and the mother’s usually make substantially less than their husband. So the type of comfort the children were used to will most likely change.

Peers, community, and schools also have an emotional impact on children. Children can have positive experiences with peer groups but they can also have negative experiences. When it is a positive experience peer groups can offer children independence and help them to find their sense of self. When it is a negative experience children can lose their ability to communicate and socialize with peers. It can also cause them to have low self-esteem. An example of a negative experience with peers is bullying. School is a tremendously beneficial experience for children. School is where children learn most of the skills they will need to be a productive adult. School also teaches children how they are expected to behave. The values of the school or teachers are passed on to their students. Children learn in different ways. They may be visual, spatial, auditory, or kinesthetic learners. It is the teacher and the school’s responsibility to discover which type of learning best fits each child.

The second system that influences development is the mesosystem. Mesosystems “consists of linkages and interrelationships between two or more of a developing person’s microsystems, such as the family and the school, or the family and the peer group” (Berns, 2013,


p.20). “These interrelationships involve a variety of settings that the child is immersed in; the influences bind them together” (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2007, p. 820). Mesosystems can benefit a child’s development but that depends on the type of microsystems that come together and the quality of their relationships (Berns, 2013). One of the most important examples of a mesosystem involves schooling. Family and schools link together for the development of children. Children develop better when they have parents that are extremely involved in their education. These children will get higher grades, they will do better in school in general, and they will be more likely to attend college after high school. Families that are involved with school will attend family teacher conferences and they will participate in schools activities. Some parents may even volunteer at their child’s school. It is also important for families to ask their children how school was and to help them with their homework. This will have a positive effect on children and the children will gain confidence (Berns, 2013, p. 142).

The link between school and community is also a vital connection in a child’s life. Schools that are located in richer in communities are better funded. The community supports the schools in their neighborhoods because these are the schools their children attend. They receive better books, computers, more funds for sports teams, more money for field trips, and better resources in general. The more funds a school has the more the learning process can be extended Children that attend these schools are in a better environment for learning and it gives them a positive outlook on life. These children have a better chance of doing well in school and doing well as adults.


The exosystem is the third system of Bronfenbrenner’s theory of human development. “They are settings in which children do not actually participate, but which affect them in one of their microsystems”(Berns, 2013, p. 21). Parent’s socioeconomic status is an example of this. Children don’t participate in a family’s socioeconomic status but it does affect them. If they are in a family that is in the low economic status they will not have the means to purchase items a child may need. This could be food or school supplies. They will not live in a nice community and therefore will not attend the best schools. “Children born into poverty statistically have lower self-esteem, are less likely to excel in school or are more likely to drop out, and they are more susceptible to violence and crime” (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2007, p. 793). On the other hand if they are born into a family that has a high socioeconomic status they will get anything they want. They will go to the best schools. They will get to go on vacations. They will have the best school supplies. They may have a computer for home and then one at school as well.

A parent’s job also affects a child indirectly. If the child’s parents do not make a lot of money and they have to work two jobs their child’s socialization will be effected. The parent will not be home to help the child do their homework, play games with them, fix dinner for them, or just to talk to them. The parent also may travel a lot for work or stay overnight for a job. In this case their child is placed in non-parental child care. There are different types of non-parental child care. There are child care centers, family day cares, and in-home care. The different types of non-parental child care can affect the child differently. Where the child is cared for is different. Some are cared for in the children’s home but other times the child is taken to a center. The


accreditation of the care takers is different. That is, if the care taker is accredited at all. Each type of care also has different learning programs. Some programs have structured activities set up for the children while others basically let the children do whatever they want. Being in child care can be beneficial and detrimental to children. “The child will be able to socialize with peers more easily, but they tend to be less cooperative and unresponsive with adults” (Berns, 2013, p.156).

The last system involved is the macrosystem. The macrosystem “consists of the society and subculture to which the developing person belongs, with particular reference to the belief systems, lifestyles, patterns of social interaction, and life changes” (Berns, 2013, p.22). There are many examples of macrosystems. Republican, upper class, lower class, Baptist, and Asian ancestry are all examples of macrosystems. The macrosystems we live in influence what, how when, and where we carry out our relations”(Swick & Williams, 2006, p. 377). This system effects the development of a child in a larger context. The beliefs of the family and their lifestyle, education, religion, and mass media all influence a child’s development. Macrosystem influences come from cultural views in society. There are certain roles in society that people are expected to live by. For example, gender roles are still seen strongly in the American culture. Parents may expect a boy to be tough and to never cry, while parents expect girls to be domesticated and nurturers. Family values are huge influences on children. There are many values parents impose on their children. They may expect their children to go to college, get a career, get married, and have 2.5 children. All of this should be done in that exact order. Many family’s morals and


values come from their socioeconomic status, their culture influences, and their religious influences. There are some universal parenting goals that are the same no matter what type of cultural or religious beliefs affect them. These are “ensuring physical health and survival, developing behavioral capacities for economic self-maintenance, and instilling behavioral capacities for maximizing cultural values, such as morality, prestige, and achievement” (Berns, 2013, p. 210). Even so, for the most part, parenting styles in the United States can vary greatly.

Urie Bronfenbrenner was correct in his theory of the bioecological model of human development. There is an enormous amount of data that shows how the four systems influence a child. The microsystem can be seen as the major system of influence. It is important to have healthy, safe, positive relationships. These relationships will help the child’s development as the other systems come into their lives. “A mesosystem can be described as the links in the chain”(Welzel & Inglehart, 2010, p. 52). School and family individually influence a child and together they make so much more of an impact. This does not only consist of these two relationships, but all relationships in the microsystem. The indirect effects of the exosystem, such as parent’s careers, have their own influences. Long hours at work and little pay can lead to a child missing out on necessities needed for life but more importantly, the child will miss out on early socialization with someone he trusts. Finally, the macrosystem is the combination of culture, religion, mass media, and other influences that are widespread. Put the four different systems of human development together and they make a huge impact on the socialization and


cognitive development of a child