Culture at Play

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Programs encouraging low income parents to play with their children the way upper and middle class parents do are gaining attention as a means of improving the children’s school performance. Utah State University anthropologist David Lancy questions the evidence supporting intervention, which is based in part of the work of University of Maryland sociologist Annette Lareau. They discuss this nexis of race, class, achievement and parenting.

Here's a recent article from The Boston Globe about parent-child play.


David Lancy and Annette Lareau

Comments [10]

Liz from Savannah, GA

One of the most interesting comments to me was that of the caller who pointed out how many children find that helping adults is a form of play. In the 1950's I grew up in an upper-middle class household, with a housekeeper/babysitter. I enjoyed following her around as she cleaned the house, and for Christmas one year she gave me a whole set of miniature housecleaning tools (broom, dustpan, etc.). I still remember that gift fondly --

I also expected not to be bored, and found the guest's explanation of that quite appealing.

Aug. 16 2007 09:28 AM
Margaret from Park Slope

I didn't hear the whole program, but I heard the caller who brought up the current research on the brain and child development that supports the idea that early parent-child interaction is crucial to the child's development in many areas. I was appalled to hear the guest experts blow her off with responses like 'well, my parents never (fill in the blanks) and I turned out ok' and 'these fashions in child-rearing come and go'. Keep up the good work, Claudia.

(Full disclosure: I'm not a parent.)

Aug. 14 2007 05:10 PM
Claudia from UWS

I represent The Parent-Child Home Program in Port Washington, New York. We work with thousands of families and children throughout the country.

The Parent-Child Home Program mission is to facilitate parent-child verbal interaction in order to develop the language skills that children need to be successful in school. Studies about the program, as well as a multitude of other studies, have demonstrated that the key to school readiness and school success is language skills, and these skills are developed through parent-child verbal interaction.

Reading, play and conversation with children, the three things we model, are ways to build language and literacy skills. We model all three because different parents will find themselves more comfortable with different approaches. The idea is to present parents with an array of ways to create language-rich home environments, not to require that they play with their children.

The valuable, research-validated work we do enables parents and their children to enter school ready to be successful students. Randomized control group studies of the Program have documented the impact on children’s school success, showing that program participants go on to graduate from high school at the rate of middle class students nationally, 20% higher than low-income students nationally and 30% than the control group.

Aug. 14 2007 12:00 PM
AP from Bronx

I have seen the young, middle-class children who descend upon special shows at the NY Botanical Garden with their doting, "attentive" parents, special projects in hand. They have great vocabularies but also act unmannerly, with no thought that other children might like to see the trains/orchids/exhibit. Their parents are spouting words like "epiphyte" to toddlers but failing to teach them that other children and adults matter too. These kids fill up schools like Hunter HS while "lesser" kids (ie nonwhite) are denied or thrown out at the first infraction.

Maybe these are the same kids shouting "I hate you." to their parents later on. Lest you think I am a kid-hater, I have four grown children of my own who were taught to value others highly, to be mannerly, to attend especially to the elderly and those in need. I talked to them, played with them, read to them endlessly, took them to church, and taught them to be considerate.

Aug. 14 2007 11:57 AM
laura jacobs from upper west side

Our nanny plays with our child or at least she says she does. She tells us she goes to a play group so the children can socialize.

Aug. 14 2007 11:52 AM

I did read the David Brooks article and listened to this morning's discussion. I was angered then and I am angered now. I don't know any lower class parent who has time, money or energy to spend time playing with the kids. Letting them help you bake, cook or clean is not a problem.
Also the black child who speaks to an adult in "authority" as an equal will surely end up in the pricipal's office, in ADHD classes, under arrest, or simply in deep trouble. This why black parents --who care most about their children's future --encourage them to be humble, polite, and quiet.

Aug. 14 2007 11:48 AM

Just had to come back to say as soon as Lareau mentioned David Brooks my antennae went up. Brooks is the ultimate hedgehog, who needs to learn about critical thinking, and the differences between his perceptions and opinions and the real world. David Brooks's MO is to find some study that somehow resonates with his opinions and world view, then inflate it to the level of a universal epiphany.

Aug. 14 2007 11:36 AM
Sparkle from Brooklyn

wait, so if you play with your kids or read to them they follow you around the house saying "I hate you mom!"? But if you work at night and all day and don't pay any attention to your kids they will respect you and be smart?

Aug. 14 2007 11:31 AM
Michael Bergelson from UWS of Manhattan

Where on the WNYC site is the link to the Boston Globe article about middle class vs lower class parent/child play mentioned by Cruz?

I don't see it.

Aug. 14 2007 11:24 AM

I know hardly any children of any class in this city who play outside independently anymore the way I did and my parents did when we were children. We played outside for hours without adult supervision, every day.

But I don't know what children the guests are talking about in the present, who do this kind of independent play. I don't know any parents of any class who allow their children to play outside unsupervised anymore.

Aug. 14 2007 11:24 AM

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