The influence of culture on early childhood

Zero to Three has release a comprehensive overview of the influence of culture on early childhood in the US. The Changing Face of the United States: The Influence of Culture on Early Child Development, by Beth Maschinot, PhD, with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Bernard van Leer Foundation posits a new definition for understanding culture in the context of early childhood as:

Culture is a shared system of meaning, which includes values, beliefs, and assumptions expressed in daily interactions of individuals within a group through a definite pattern of language, behavior, customs, attitudes and practices.

This reworked definition of “culture” provides a way of expanding the discussion and extending it to young children and families. The report challenges early childhood practitioners in reexamining how useful traditional research studies have been in helping better understand “culture”.

The report summarizes the findings of a 2007 literature review, conducted by Zero To Three and offers information and resources for early childhood practitioners on how to address the needs of a growingly diverse population. The report suggests that “differences in parent-child interaction styles between ethnic groups may be a function of the group’s place in wider society rather than a cultural difference per se”.