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Children’s Daily Activities in a Mayan Village: A Culturally Grounded Description

Building on recent efforts to reconceptualize development and socialization as contextually grounded processes, several aspects of Yucatec Mayan children’s daily lives are observed, including maintenance activities, social orientation, work, and play. For each category of activity, the behavior of children ranging in age from 0 to 17 is described. Three principles of engagement generated to explain the Mayan cultural context (primacy of adult work, parental beliefs, and independence of child motivation) are used to interpret the descriptive data, illustrating how cultural understanding enables a meaningful interpretation of Mayan children’s behavior and how lack of knowledge of these principles could lead to a misinterpretation through a Western cultural lens.