Culture and society have profound influences on a child’s growth and development and are important considerations for early childhood teachers if they wish to better understand children and provide higher quality early childhood education and services to children and their families, (Te Whaariki, Ministry of Education, 1996). One particular example of the effect that culture and society can have on the growth and development of a child is child-rearing practices. Different cultural groups and societies have diverse styles of child-rearing practices which are uniquely influenced by a range of values, beliefs and dominate assumptions (Berk, 2003). A significant factor in view of child-rearing practices is the role of the family. Different cultures and societies have different ideas about the nature of a family. Some cultures value a nuclear family, while others are more accepting of families which are extended, (Papalia & Olds, 1998). The decisions adults make about a child’s growing independence will also vary. In some cultures, decisions are made based upon age or gender, where for some the child’s ability will be the most important factor (Berk, 2003). Bronfrenbrenners Ecological Systems Theory is very useful for the study of child development within a social and cultural context as it provides a framework which acknowledges the entirety of a child’s world and the vast array of social and cultural influences on a child’s growth and development, (Berk, 2003). Bronfrenbrenner described his theory as involving “the scientific study of the progressive, mutual accommodation between an active, growing human being and the changing properties of
the immediate settings in which the developing person lives, as this process is affected by relations between these settings, and by the larger contexts in which the settings are embedded”, (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, p. 21). Bronfenbrenner’s theory involves the identification of specific systems, which are the Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exosystem, Macrosystem and
Chronosystem. Each of these systems has a specific level of influence on a child’s growth and development and will be used to critically analyse child rearing practices and the some of the effects on physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development. The Microsystem includes the immediate environmental settings that the child participates in, such as the early childhood setting and home. A child’s physical development within the home is influence not only by child rearing practices but also by caregivers attitudes towards physical growth and development. These attitudes can influence the provisions within the environment to support physical development, (Berk, 2003) The decisions that parents make are affected by their social and cultural context. Berk, (2003) suggests that a caregiver’s level of education has a significant effect on way growth and development is supported in the child’s microsystem. In relation to physical development, if a caregiver is educated in and aware of certain physical developmental milestones, they may seek to give the child an environment more conducive to extending on the child’s development stage, such as safe areas to practice walking, or a small rail to climb up on, A parent’s education does not guarantee positive outcomes however as they may have read 3
literature with competing claims as to the right or wrong ways to raise a child or support growth and development. An educated parent may however be able to make more informed choices, (Berk, 2003). A study in which child-rearing techniques and the support offered for children to develop numeracy skills was examined found children from different cultures and societies are involved in a range of different activities in the home, which either aid or inhibit cognitive development in relations to numeracy. For example children who have access to the kitchen when meals are being made and are allowed to...
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