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Citation:Machida, S., Taylor, A. R., & Kim, J. (2002). The role of maternal beliefs in predicting home learning activities in Head Start families. Family Relations, 51(2), 176-184. EJ644565.

This research study examines a conceptual model hypothesizing that maternal beliefs (self-efficacy, perceived control) mediate the relation between child-family characteristics (childÕs difficult temperament, motherÕs education, stressful life events) and the extent of in-home learning activities in Head Start. The results showed partial support for the model. Maternal education and family stress were not directly related to home learning, although family stress influenced home learning indirectly through parental self-efficacy, defined as a parentÕs belief that he or she possesses the required parenting skills to meet specific child rearing challenges. The authorÕs analysis of the data did not provide conclusive evidence about whether ethnicity moderated the relationships among variables in the conceptual model. Three-hundred and six ethnically diverse (predominantly Hispanic) Head Start children and their mothers were interviewed individually either in their homes or at the center in English or Spanish, depending on their preference during the fall and spring of the Head Start academic year. A path model correlational analysis of three background variables and two mediators using the data from these interviews were used to test the conceptual model. A model comparison was conducted for Anglo and Mexican American samples and the margin of sampling error was tested using chi-square statistics. The study results remind practitioners that low-income parents have to overcome a number of challenges, but it appears having some sense of competency and confidence in oneÕs parenting skills can facilitate a home learning environment that prepares children for school. With this in mind, the authors suggest that teachersÕ assessment of parent efficacy can help guide them in efforts to empower parents and build their capacity to create stimulating home learning environments. The study was limited in that the mothersÕ beliefs and beliefs of other significant caregivers, especially fathers, were not represented. Also, random sampling or comparison grouping were not used.

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