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Five- and Eight-Year Old Children’s Joint Planning With Mother Among Korean-American and European-American Families


Parent-child interactions provide opportunities for children’s development and learning (Vygotsky, 1978). Cultural belief systems shape parents’ parenting and socialization practices and can provide insight into variations in children’s learning environments (Gauvain & Perez, 2015; Super & Harkness, 1986). Cultural differences between Asian- and European-American families suggest different socialization practices and children’s learning experiences (Bornstein & Cheah, 2006; Parmar, Super, & Harkness, 2004). My dissertation investigates variations in parent-child interaction and parental instruction among Korean- and European-American families and how these interactions contribute to children’s planning skills in early to middle childhood.

Using the microgenetic method, I observed 88 mother-child dyads (44 Korean-, 44 European-Americans) across three activity-planning tasks (child-only pretest and posttest, mother-child interaction). Mothers reported on their parental beliefs (socialization goals, guan parenting, freedom to learn) and age-related expectations about children’s planning. Video recordings of mother-child interactions were transcribed and coded for maternal instructions and affective feedback as well as the child’s planning performances. The findings showed cultural differences in parental beliefs about learning and planning as well as variations in maternal instructions based on parental ethnotheories, child age, ethnoracial background, and mother’s acculturation. Lastly, the findings revealed several dimensions of parental beliefs and maternal interaction patterns that facilitated children’s planning skills. My research extends understanding of how maternal instruction may take different forms for children with different cultural histories and has implications for the development of culturally-responsive learning environments.

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