Biological, social, economic, and environmental factors interact with the child, the family, the community, and the broader sociopolitical and historical contexts to determine a child’s development. Theoretical frames of reference for understanding how these factors interact include Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecology of human development and sociocultural theories such as the work of Lev Vygotsky. Research has demonstrated relationships among developmental determinants to explain developmental pathways for children.

Theoretical Models of Developmental Determinants

According to Bronfenbrenner’s theory of ecological development, human development occurs through increasingly complex reciprocal interactions between the child and the people, objects, and symbols in the immediate external environment. Intraindividual factors include each person’s dispositions; their abilities, experiences, knowledge, and skill; and their personal characteristics that invite or discourage reactions and interactions from the social environment. ...

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