Maternal Parenting Behaviors and Infants’ Receptive Language In Immigrant Families

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The University of Maryland McNair Scholars Undergraduate Research Journal, 2, (2010): 139-156.



Receptive language is known as the ability to listen and comprehend, and has been found to be one of the biggest predictor for academic success. With the increase in the United States, incoming immigrant population it is important to address the issue of immigrant children entering school less prepared then native children. There is a lack of research examining the link between mother-infant interactions in relation to the promotion of infant receptive language within the immigrant population. This study examines the relationship between immigrant mother’s early cognitive engagement and sensitivity with their infants, during mother-infant play and the infant’s later receptive language and the influence of maternal education. A total of 19 immigrant mothers of Latino, African, Caribbean and Asian Pacific Island background were videotaped playing with their infants in order to determine the level of cognitive engagement and sensitivity provided. Data analysis of the coding scores revealed that there was a distinctive difference in the level of maternal education in relation to cognitive engagement and sensitivity. Results determined that receptive language was not associated with parenting behaviors: sensitivity and cognitive engagement. Indicators of cultural variations within the sample could have influenced the results. Future research needs to extend this study in order to determine the longitudinal effects of parenting behaviors of immigrant mothers and their children’s receptive language.