Cultivating Strong Parenting Practices in Latino Homes

Oct 24, 2012

By Emily Firgens

By 2030, it's estimated that 1 in 3 U.S. children will be Latino. As the population of Latino children grows, it's important that our early education efforts include an intentional focus on preparing Latino children for school and future success. Recent reports highlight the positive impact strong parenting practices can have on children's social, emotional and cognitive development. The reports focus specifically on the impact strong parenting practices can have in Latino and immigrant families. In turn, these positive parenting practices help set kids up for future success in school and life.  

A recent study in Child Development finds that first and second generation Mexican mothers, including those from low-income and poor families, demonstrate strong social-emotional functioning in the home.  Researchers found that  foreign-born Mexican mothers had more stable home environments, and suggested this might help buffer the stress of poverty and the cultural stress of migration. Stronger social-emotional functioning was measured through better maternal mental health and fewer arguments between parents. Earlier research has found that children of some Latino immigrant groups exhibit strong social and emotional competence upon school entrance important for educational success. However, in the study, foreign-born Mexican mothers reported reading less to their young children when compared to foreign-born Asian mothers and native-born white mothers.

Building on the strengths of Latino families and helping parents support their young children across cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development is critical to children's success in and beyond school. The Abriendo Puertas, or "Opening Doors" program, offers Latino parents the opportunity to do just that-support their children's healthy and happy development. Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors (AP/OD) is a comprehensive, 10-session parenting skills and advocacy program that was developed for low-income Latino parents with children between the ages 0 and 5. The program aims to develop parents' understanding of child development and parenting practices that can positively impact their child's life.

A recent evaluation of parents who went through the AP/OD program found that parents made moderate to large gains in their knowledge of children's early learning, social-emotional skills, language and literacy development, school preparation, and health, as well as in their own parenting skills, ability to advocate for their children, and their confidence in parenting. After completing the program, parents understood more about their child's development and how to support their child through strong parenting practices.

Many families struggle to fully support their children's social, emotional, and cognitive development, but  the challenges for low-income and immigrant families can be compounded as they deal with other daily challenges. Reinforcing positive social-emotional practices and supplementing parents' knowledge through programs like AP/OD are ways to build on low-income, Latino parents' skills and provide the help they need to fully support their young children's success.  

site by Trilogy Interactive