The present study explored the perspectives of mothers from three communities regarding their role in play activities with their toddlers. The mothers of two-year-old children from Muenster, Germany (n = 34), Chennai, India (n = 36), and New York City, USA (n = 36), participated in the study. Qualitative content analysis was utilized to analyze the mothers' responses to semi-structured interview questions. Four roles were identified as characterizing the mothers' narratives, namely mothers as facilitators, teachers, play partners, or observers. The goal of facilitator was to support children's autonomy; teachers often described educational learning goals; and play partners and observers highlighted the play itself. In the data, two-thirds of the mothers from New York City were identified as facilitators, while half of the Chennai sample were identified as teachers. The Muenster sample recorded the largest variation with regard to the four roles. The findings suggest variations in how the mothers in our samples viewed their role in play situations, both within and across communities.
- Cross-community study
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