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Cultural Variations in Parental Support of Children’s Play

The purpose of this reading is to highlight the importance of play for children’s development and to examine the role of parents in supporting children’s play in various cultures. Although play is believed to be universal, the amount of attention devoted to play in a particular society depends in part on the cultural beliefs about the nature of childhood, and on the adults’ specific goals for their young children. Researchers have found that some parents consider themselves appropriate social partners for their young children, but in many communities it is older siblings and peers who are the children’s primary play partners. Regardless of their direct involvement in the on-going play activities, parents often provide support and guidance for children’s play.