Learning begins at home: The role of Hispanic mothers as their child's first teacher
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The study of ethnic minority populations can provide valuable information about diverse subgroups within the larger society and clarify the significance of sociocultural factors in child socialization (Vargas & Busch-Rossnagel, 2003). Parental knowledge about child development has been found to influence conceptualizations of acceptable and normative behaviors and could therefore explain why parents from diverse backgrounds differ in childrearing attitudes, beliefs, and practices (Delgado & Ford, 1998; Huang, Caughy, Genevro, & Miller, 2005). Hispanic mothers, in general, have been characterized according to a deficit model in comparative analyses with their Anglo-American counterparts. This deficit model does not account for the cultural influences inherent in the parental schemas of Hispanic mothers (Cardona, Nicholson, & Fox, 2000). The present study aimed to broaden the existing literature on the values that Mexican mothers have concerning their children’s development, the role that culture plays in maternal teaching practices, and to explore the notion of an existing conflict between home and school values in relation to Mexican children’s academic achievement. This study was comprised of a sample of seventy-nine Mexican mothers between the ages of 18-over 40. A questionnaire, designed by the researcher after an examination of the literature and pilot testing, was used to measure maternal values associated with parenting and teaching strategies. In addition to family demographic information (maternal place of birth, education, marital status, family income), the questionnaire included 54 questions and was divided into the following six subscales: child attitude, child learning, teaching, parenting, maternal values about child development, and academic achievement (GPA). Mothers in the study were found to place more emphasis on their values towards child development than their parenting skills. Maternal values were found to be associated with parenting practices. A significant relationship was also found between child learning and GPA.