Chinese mothers’ profile which values both play and academics predicts better developmental outcome in young children

Parental beliefs about play and learning are part of the “belief-context ” of early childhood development and can thus make a key difference for the child. Previous studies have focused on cross-cultural comparisons, and therefore have neglected intra-cultural variations. This study sampled 163 Chinese mothers with children aged two to four years old (M = 38.73 months, SD = 4.91) in south-eastern China, using the Chinese Parent Play Beliefs Scale, Home Play Activities Questionnaire and China Developmental Scale for Children. The latent profile analysis identified the three profiles of Chinese mothers: (a) Traditional mothers, who placed higher value on pre-academic activities, but lower value on early play; (b) Contemporary mothers, who placed higher value on early play, but lower value on pre-academic activities; and (c) Eclectic mothers, who placed the highest values on both pre-academic activities and play. The three profiles of mothers’ play beliefs were differentiated by maternal education, frequencies of children’s play and pre-academic activities at home, and children’s early development. Children of Eclectic mothers had better cognitive development than those of Contemporary mothers, and had better socio-emotional and overall development than those of Traditional mothers, even after adjusting for socio-demographic variables. © The Author(s) 2018.

Parental beliefs about play and learning are part of the “belief-context ” of early childhood development and can thus make a key difference for the child. Previous studies have focused on cross-cultural comparisons, and therefore have neglected intra-cultural variations. This study sampled 163 Chinese mothers with children aged two to four years old (M = 38.73 months, SD = 4.91) in south-eastern China, using the Chinese Parent Play Beliefs Scale, Home Play Activities Questionnaire and China Developmental Scale for Children. The latent profile analysis identified the three profiles of Chinese mothers: (a) Traditional mothers, who placed higher value on pre-academic activities, but lower value on early play; (b) Contemporary mothers, who placed higher value on early play, but lower value on pre-academic activities; and (c) Eclectic mothers, who placed the highest values on both pre-academic activities and play. The three profiles of mothers’ play beliefs were differentiated by maternal education, frequencies of children’s play and pre-academic activities at home, and children’s early development. Children of Eclectic mothers had better cognitive development than those of Contemporary mothers, and had better socio-emotional and overall development than those of Traditional mothers, even after adjusting for socio-demographic variables. © The Author(s) 2018.

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