An Analysis of Bronfenbrenner’s Bio-Ecological Perspective for Early Childhood Educators: Implications for Working with Families Experiencing Stress Kevin James Swick1,2 and Reginald D. Williams1
Today’s families face many stressors during the early childhood years. Particular stressors like homelessness, violence, and chemical dependence, play havoc with the family system. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological perspective offers an insightful lens for understanding and supporting families under stress. This article presents the key elements of Bronfenbrenner’s perspective and applies this perspective to strategies for effectively helping families under stress. KEY WORDS: Bronfenbrenner; bio-ecological perspective; stressed families; supporting families under stress. Understanding families as they experience stress is important to early childhood educators. It is critical that as professionals we reach out to help families and to base this help on understandings that are re- search based and of value to enhance families (Swick, 2004). Urie Bronfenbrenner’s (1979, 2005) bio-eco- logical perspective offers insights that can enhance our understanding of families. It also provides con- cepts we can use in crafting empowering relations with families. It is important to note that in our advocacy and support of families we must use Bronfernbrenner’s constructs with his own caution of ‘‘do no harm’’ to families. Thus, we must avoid cat- egorizing, stereotyping, and impeding families through the work and relations we develop with them (Swick, 2004). Instead, we need to use these concepts in ways that strengthen our relations with families. 1Instruction and Teacher Education, College of Education, University of South Carolina – Columbia, Columbia, SC 29208, USA. 2Correspondence should be directed to Kevin James Swick, Instruction and Teacher Education, College of Education, University of South Carolina – Columbia, Wardlaw 107, Colum- bia, SC 29208, USA; e-mail:...
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