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Exloration&Play reading

Exloration&Play reading - Online Readings in...

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Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, Unit 11, Chapter 3 Vandermass-Peler, M. (2002). Cultural variations in parental support of children's play. In W. J. Lonner, D. L. Dinnel, S. A. Hayes, & D. N. Sattler (Eds.), Online Readings in Psychology and Culture (Unit 11, Chapter 3), (http://www.wwu.edu/~culture), Center for Cross-Cultural Research, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington USA. This material is copyrighted by the author(s), who have kindly extended to the Center the right to use the material as described in the Introduction to this collection and the form entitled "Agreement to Extend License to Use Work." UNIT 11, CHAPTER 3 CULTURAL VARIATIONS IN PARENTAL SUPPORT OF CHILDREN'S PLAY Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler Elon University, U.S.A. ABSTRACT The purpose of this reading is to highlight the importance of play for children's development and to examine the role of parents in supporting children's play in various cultures. Although play is believed to be universal, the amount of attention devoted to play in a particular society depends in part on the cultural beliefs about the nature of childhood, and on the adults' specific goals for their young children. Researchers have found that some parents consider themselves appropriate social partners for their young children, but in many communities it is older siblings and peers who are the children's primary play partners. Regardless of their direct involvement in the on-going play activities, parents often provide support and guidance for children's play. INTRODUCTION An elderly Maya woman sits in her chair by the outdoor brick oven, making a large stack of corn tortillas that will soon be cooked for the mid-day meal. She smiles and talks to her visitors, but her hands never stop pressing the tortillas. Around her feet are a number of chickens scratching and pecking at the dirt floor. Occasionally the woman stops, grabs a long stick nearby, and shoos the chickens away. As the woman resumes making tortillas, her oldest daughter begins to set the table, asking the visitors what they would like to drink. The youngest member of the family present is a young girl of about four years of age. She is watching all the preparations but not yet taking an active part in them. Occasionally she shoos the chickens, but she is focused mostly on playing with some kittens and watching the strangers. When asked what toys she likes to play with, the little girl smiles shyly, goes into the house and brings back two treasured items. She hands one of them to me, a pop-up book of animals who live in the rain forest. The other she holds up proudly, a worn looking, blond-haired blue-eyed Barbie. It is the same doll that my daughter plays with, in another country and in an entirely different cultural setting. One of the most remarkable features of play is that children all over the world engage in various forms of play, whether it be with dolls, balls, homemade materials or with only the child's imagination. Hughes (1999) calls play a "true cultural universal." Regardless of their economic situation, children seem to find both time and materials for play.
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