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Social Contexts of Early Education, and Reconceptualizing Play (II)

ISBN: 978-0-76231-146-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-299-3

Publication date: 18 November 2004


Given the considerable interest currently in the field of early childhood on ways culture influences children’s development, in this chapter I present findings from an ethnographic study I conducted over a six-month period that looks at cultural influences on children’s development. The study looks at 20 Mexican-American children living in a low-income neighborhood in a South Texas community. The children and their families were studied in three specific settings: the children’s homes, the neighborhood surrounding the children’s homes, and the Head Start Center the children attended which was located in the neighborhood. The children ranged in age from 3 to 5 years. Research methodology involved participant observation, informal interviewing, formal interviewing, and document analysis. The theories of Bronfenbrenner and Ogbu provide the framework for considering the cultural perspective in looking at children’s development. Numerous possible themes of cultural aspects as uniquely influencing children’s development emerged from the study’s data collection. The theme I address in this chapter is the adults’ use of names when addressing children. The findings of the study are also compared to the criterion of cultural diversity in Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). Implications for future research and early childhood practice are also presented. Finally, I suggest a new metaphor for looking at culture and its influence on child development.


Cantú Woods, I. (2004), "LESSONS FROM HOME: A LOOK AT CULTURE AND DEVELOPMENT", Reifel, S. and Brown, M. (Ed.) Social Contexts of Early Education, and Reconceptualizing Play (II) (Advances in Early Education and Day Care, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 137-161.



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