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Parent-child play interactions in immigrant South-Asian families Goldstein, Maya


In this study South Asian immigrant parent-child play interactions and parents’ perceptions of the role of play in their children’s development were examined. Most studies regarding play were conducted in North America; however only a few studies focused on immigrants. This study used an ethnographic approach and had two phases. In the first phase participant observations were conducted with thirteen parents and their children in a drop-in centre and a staff member from the drop-in centre was interviewed. In the second phase, two families were observed in their home environment, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the parents and the mothers completed calendar logs on their children’s activities. The findings from both the drop-in centre and the families’ homes suggested that there were two main approaches to play and development. The first was a directed approach to play with a focus on educational play activities, and an emphasis on cognitive development. At the centre some parents stayed physically close to their children and focused on structured art activities and alphabet or number toys. The second approach was a natural approach to play in which the parents did not guide their children during play, and believed that in order to learn children should make their own decisions regarding with what and with whom to play. At the centre some mothers spent most of their time socializing with other mothers while the children played by themselves or occasionally with other children. There were also differences in the play patterns in Canada and India, and the parents found themselves caught between those two contexts. In their own culture and tradition parents did not play much with their children because there were always other play partners close by such as neighbors, cousins, siblings, friends and grandparents. However, in Canada the parents were influenced by what they heard in the centre regarding the “learning through play” philosophy and how parents should devote time to play with their children.

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