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Title:MothersÕ achievement beliefs and behaviors and their childrenÕs school readiness: A cultural comparison
Author:Kinlaw, R. C., Kurtz-Costes, B., & Goldman-Fraser, J.
Resource Type:Journal Article
Applied Developmental Psychology, 22(2001)

pp. 493-506
Education Level:Early Childhood/Pre-K
Literature type:Research and Evaluation

This study investigates the comparative relationships among Chinese-American and European-American mothers' beliefs, their behaviors, and their preschool children's school readiness. It contributes to the effort-ability literature (which establishes that some learners attribute success to effort, whereas others attribute success to ability√źdifferences that affect their willingness to work hard at difficult tasks). While researchers did not find a direct link between mother's behavior and children's outcomes, they found ethnic differences in parents' attributions consistent with research on school-age children and their parents. That is, Chinese-American mothers more strongly endorsed effort as a factor in their children's academic success than did European-American mothers. These differences paralleled differences in the child's autonomy and academic skills. The European-American parents tended to attribute their child's academic skills to what they as parents had done with the child; the Chinese-American parents, on the other hand, attributed the academic success to the child's own efforts. Researchers worked with 43 mothers and their 4-to-5 year old children prior to school entry. Twenty-three children were European-American, 20 were Chinese-American, and all were middle class. Mothers were interviewed concerning their believed determinants of young children's early success in reading and math and how frequently they read with their child. The relationship between maternal behaviors and child outcome measures were then tested. Researchers said the study highlights differences in the preparedness of children for the tasks of formal schooling and the necessity that educators understand cultural backgrounds of their students. They also suggested teachers be sensitive to the differing beliefs of parents concerning how they may best foster children's development and how to promote academic success; in fact, they cautioned that educators should be aware of the possible ethnocentric implication that parents of all cultures should use approaches successful with one. Authors identified as a problem that maternal reading behavior was only assessed with a retrospective self-report of the number of episodes spent reading with their child, whereas many other measures of literacy-related activities in the home might have given more information on the connection between mother's literacy behaviors and their child's school readiness.

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