Play offers rich opportunities for toddlers to develop motor, social, cognitive, and language skills, particularly during interactions with adult caregivers who may scaffold toddlers to higher levels of play than toddlers achieve on their own. However, research on play has narrowly focused on children from White, middle-income backgrounds, leaving a dearth of knowledge about dyadic play in diverse cultural communities. We videorecorded 222 Mexican-American mothers playing with their 2-year-old toddlers with a standard set of toys. Play behaviors were coded as nonsymbolic or symbolic (play type) and as expressed through manual, verbal, or multiple channels (play modality). Play between toddlers and mothers was frequent, high in symbolic content, and toddler play closely corresponded with mother play in type and modality: Toddlers’ nonsymbolic play related to mothers’ nonsymbolic play; toddlers’ symbolic play related to mothers’ symbolic play; toddlers’ manual play related to mothers’ manual play; and toddlers’ multimodal play related to mothers’ multimodal play. Play in Mexican-American mothers and toddlers is frequent, multimodal, and symbolically rich, offering new directions for future research and practice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology