An Inquiry of Children’s Social Support Networks Using Eco-Maps
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Children receive support for their learning and development from multiple sources and within various developmental contexts. The extant literature investigating children’s social supports has uncovered multiple benefits to positive and complex social support system. However, the measurement of children’s social supports has largely been accomplished through accessing knowledge of either a parent or child. In order to understand children’s support systems, which are embedded within multiple contexts and prejudiced by multiple influences, it is imperative to access all relevant perspectives.
This exploratory project was undertaken by a preschool teacher-researcher in order to understand the types of information eco-maps provide about children’s social support networks in an effort to support young children’s learning and development.
Eco-map interviews describing children’s social networks were completed by preschool-age children, their parents and their preschool teacher. Each informant identified the major people in the child’s support network, described relationships, and identified the type and developmental area of support provided by each individual. All the information was graphically represented within an eco-map using shapes and color coding to distinguish variations.
Qualitative analysis of five children’s completed maps revealed three themes: agreement on an inner circle, different perspectives on the kinds of support provided, and children’s unique way of expressing support.
Eco-maps with children, parents, and teachers may contribute to educational research and practice through providing detailed information about children’s social support network through the identification of resources to support the development and learning of young children.
KeywordsSocial supports Preschool children Eco-maps
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