American and Asian parents' ethnotheories of play and learning: Effects on home routines and children's behavior in school

Date of Completion

January 2000


Psychology, Behavioral|Education, Early Childhood|Psychology, Developmental




The present research study explored cultural variations in beliefs and practices related to young children's play between Euro-American and Asian families living in the U.S. There is wide variation in beliefs and practices related to young children's play in cultures across the world. Children from different cultural backgrounds may arrive in these settings with very different experiences of play at home. It is important to understand how parents' concepts of play and learning experience interact with early childhood education environments. ^ The sample included parents of 48 preschool children from two cultural backgrounds and their teachers (Euro-Americans = 24, Asians = 24, and Preschool Teachers = 10). The sample was matched for age, sex, and cultural backgrounds. All children were attending preschool. Both parents of the target child were from the same cultural background. The Locale of the study was northeastern Connecticut. The data was collected at two settings, at home and at school. Data was collected on Daily Activities Check-list, Questionnaires, which included both open and close-ended Scales and semi structures interviews. ^ The results reveal two contrasting patterns of beliefs and practices of Euro-American and Asian parents. The Euro-American parents consider play as an important vehicle for the early development and growth of the preschool children. They consider play helpful in enhancing physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. In contrast, the Asian parents did not value play in the development of preschool children. They did not believe that play helps children get ready for school. ^ Euro-American engaged significantly less than the Asian parents in structured teaching at home. The Asian parents did not use play as an intermediary tool, but teach academics at home directly beginning in preschool years. Euro-American parents' played with their children and provided settings that facilitate play at home. ^