Cover: Minority Parents' Perspectives on Racial Socialization and School Readiness in the Early Childhood Period

Minority Parents' Perspectives on Racial Socialization and School Readiness in the Early Childhood Period

Published in: Academic Pediatrics, v. 15, no. 4, July-Aug. 2015, p. 405-411

Posted on Jan 8, 2015

by Ashaunta T. Anderson, Aurora Jackson, Loretta Jones, David P. Kennedy, Kenneth B. Wells, Paul J. Chung

Research Questions

  1. How do minority parents help their children navigate issues of racism?
  2. What does racial socialization imply about school readiness?

OBJECTIVE: To describe how minority parents help their young children navigate issues of race and racism and discuss implications this racial socialization may have for school readiness. METHODS: Sixteen focus groups were conducted among 114 African American, English language-primary Latino, Spanish language-primary Latino, and Korean language-primary Korean parents of children ages 0 to 4 years old. Transcripts were coded for major themes and subsequently compared across the 4 language-ethnicity groups. Parents also shared demographic and parenting data by survey, from which group-specific proportions provide context for identified themes. RESULTS: In this sample, nearly half of surveyed parents had already talked to their young child about unfair treatment due to race. The proportion of such conversations ranged from one-fifth of Korean parents to two-thirds of Spanish language-primary parents. In focus groups, Korean parents reported fewer experiences with racism than African American and Latino parents. Within each language-ethnicity group, fewer fathers than mothers reported addressing race issues with their young children. All focus groups endorsed messages of cultural pride, preparation for bias, and a strong focus on the individual. The majority of parents viewed racial socialization as an important part of school readiness. CONCLUSIONS: Racial socialization was believed to be salient for school readiness, primarily practiced by mothers, and focused at the individual level. The smaller role of fathers and systems-based approaches represent opportunities for intervention. These results may inform the development of culturally tailored parenting interventions designed to decrease the race-based achievement gap and associated health disparities.

Key Findings

  • Half of parents of children ages 0-4 years had alerted their children to unfair treatment due to race.
  • Mothers were more likely than fathers to address racial issues.
  • Most parents viewed racial socialization as an important component of school readiness.

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