A Qualitative Study of Maternal Perceptions of Acculturation Processes at the Onset of Child Schooling

Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, Audrey A Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immigrant families may experience parent-child differences in acculturation. A critical time in this differential acculturation is the onset of the child's schooling. Building on prior studies of parent-child acculturation processes, this exploratory, qualitative study examined mothers' perspectives on their preschoolers' acculturation and the relationship to their own acculturation. Based on qualitative data collected from six Latino immigrant mothers of preschool-aged children, three acculturation processes emerged that illustrate how mothers perceive their own and their child's acculturation: parallel, vertex, and inter-segmented. One pair was coded as experiencing a parallel acculturation process, defined as mother and child experiencing completely disconnected acculturation processes. Three pairs were coded as experiencing a vertex-like process, which is defined as mother and child starting at the same point and then deviating from each other as the child's acculturation accelerates and the mother's decelerates. Two pairs were identified as inter-segmented, meaning that mother and child acculturation processes converge and separate at various points. Each type may have implications for mother-child interactions and relationship during preschool and subsequent school years when acculturation may impact families further. This study emphasizes the need to understand parents' approaches and expectations as they relate to cultural adaptations, especially at the onset of schooling. We end with recommendations for teachers and administrators in preschool settings to improve their understanding of acculturation and their relationships with immigrant families.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNHSA Dialog
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 15 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • acculturation
  • children
  • Latino
  • preschool
  • maternal perceptions


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