Typically, when we think of social-cultural factors, what comes to mind first might be “color” or “race.” However, social-cultural factors extend to religious affiliation, specific types of communities, the culture of being a foster child or a child of abuse, children with exceptionalities, single -parent families, LGBT, homelessness, poverty, or migrant workers, etc. These environmental and cultural elements significantly impact one’s social and emotional development and the way that we see ourselves and the world at large. Since our social-emotional lives are intimately tied to our cultural identity, our job as ECEC providers is to possess cultural competence and understand developmental diversity while fostering appreciation and respect of our differences.
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View this chart and read the following articles that discuss Dr. Urie Bronfrenbrenner’s Ecological Systems:

  • Review Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems using this self-check.

Next, think about the infants and toddlers you intend to work with and:

  • Describe the four layers of relationships that influence infant and toddler’s development.
  • What, if anything, does Bronfenbrenner’s theory suggest about importance of resources (family, community, outreach) for typically developing infants and toddler and infants and toddlers with diverse needs?
  • How does your knowledge of the ecological systems theory influence your interactions with students and families experiencing stress? Discuss your ideas.

Do you agree or disagree with the way they described their four layer relationship? What, if anything, would you change or question? Also, what strategies or ideas can you respectfully offer to your peers regarding how they can help facilitate the success of both typically developing students and students with exceptionalities using Bronfenbrenner’s model?


1.       Hearron, P. & Hildebrand, V. (2009). Guiding young children (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.



a.       Chapter 11: Understanding and Addressing Challenging Behavior

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