Culture and Early Childhood Development

Harkness Sara, Charles M. Super, Caroline Johnston Mavridis, Oumar Barry and Marian Zeitlin

in Handbook of Early Childhood Development Research and Its Impact on Global Policy

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199922994
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980420 | DOI:
Culture and Early Childhood Development

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Universal aspects of early childhood development (ECD) are recognized globally, but cultural expectations of children’s competence vary widely across different domains, such as literacy and domestic responsibilities. The core challenge of ECD programs and policies is to integrate interventional goals with the biologically based developmental agendas of young children and the cultural expectations that shape their daily lives. This chapter presents a theoretical framework—the developmental niche—to help to clarify the issues involved in ECD across various cultural contexts, particularly in economically developing societies. We begin with a brief review of concept of culture as it applies to children and families, drawing from recent scholarship in psychology and anthropology. We then provide a description of the developmental niche as a framework for informing policy and improving program effectiveness. The final section illustrates the relevance of the developmental niche for ECD policy, using examples from several cultural regions.

Keywords: culture; cultural competence; developmental niche; parental beliefs; ethnotheories; customs; colombia; senegal; turkey

Chapter.  8726 words. 

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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