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Dev Psychol. 2010 May;46(3):559-65. doi: 10.1037/a0019412.

Learning from Latinos: contexts, families, and child development in motion.

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  • 1School of Education, University of California, Berkeley, Tolman Hall 3659, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Two generations ago, Latino children and families were often defined as disadvantaged, even "culturally deprived," by psychologists, social scientists, and pediatric researchers. Since then, empirical work from several disciplines has yielded remarkable discoveries regarding the strengths of Latino families and resulting benefits for children. Theoretical advances illuminate how variation in the child's culturally bounded context or developmental niche reproduces differing socialization practices, forms of cognition, and motivated learning within everyday activities. This review sketches advances in 4 areas: detailing variation in children's local contexts and households among Latino subgroups, moving beyond Latino-White comparisons; identifying how parenting goals and practices in less acculturated, more traditional families act to reinforce social cohesion and support for children; identifying, in turn, how pressures on children and adolescents to assimilate to novel behavioral norms offer developmental risks, not only new opportunities; and seeing children's learning and motivation as situated within communities that exercise cognitive demands and social expectations, advancing particular forms of cognitive growth that are embedded within social participation and the motivated desire to become a competent member. This review places the articles that follow within such contemporary lines of work. Together they yield theoretical advances for understanding the growth of all children and adolescents, who necessarily learn and develop within bounded cultural or social-class groups.

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