Parental Influence on Children’s Talent Development- a Case Study with Three Chinese American Families

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Echo H. Wu Hong Kong Institute of Education
This paper explores the influence of parenting beliefs and practices on children’s talent development through a specific perspective of several Chinese American families with gifted children. In-depth interviews were employed to collect data from the parents, and research questions focused on the daily practice of parenting and parents’ beliefs concerning how to nurture high achievement among children. Findings of this study include evidence of a sense of responsibility for parenting, a high level of confidence over their children’s future, and a mixed strategy of parenting that combines traditional Chinese parental expectations with an adopted Western notion of respect for a child’s own decision making.

Research indicates that there are a variety of issues, such as gi edness or innate ability, intrapersonal components, and various environmental factors, that may in uence children’s talent development. Parenting is considered to be one of the most in uential factors, especially in early childhood, as it is thought to contribute directly to the talented performance of children. According to research (e.g., Bloom, 1985; Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1993; Freeman, 2001; Rubin & Chung, 2006; VanTassel-Baska & Olszewski-Kubilius, 1989), parents and other signi cant family members play pivotal roles in the development of gi ed and talented children, not only in nurturing the academic performance of children but also in facilitating their social-emotional development (Feldman, 1999; Gross, 2004; Gross & Vliet, 2005; Moon, 2003; Nugent, 2005; Olszewski-Kubilius, 2002).

Echo H. Wu is Assistant Professor in Early Childhood Department at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. Journal for the Education of the Gifted. Vol. 32, No. 1, 2008, pp. 100–129. Copyright ©2008 Prufrock Press Inc.,

Parental In uence on Children Literature on cultural matters in education has provided the premise that di erent cultures present di erent tools, habits, and assumptions that signi cantly in uence human thoughts and behavior (Tweed & Lehman, 2002). us, people from di erent cultural backgrounds may hold di erent beliefs about, and perceptions of, the role of parents and families, as well as di erent ideas about gi edness (Wu, 2006). In Asian countries, particularly in a Chinese context, innate ability is regarded as being less in uential than factors like e ort (Wu, 2005). Although self-e ort and environmental factors have been paid much attention, it seems that in Western societies the importance of innate ability has been dominant and has in uenced parents and others in their perceptions of learning and achieving (Wu, 2006). Such a focus on e ort and hard work might be a unique feature among Chinese American people, as compared to general American parents who might pay more attention to the importance of innate ability. One would assume that Chinese parents who have lived in the U.S. for many years may combine their Chinese traditional beliefs and practices with what is valued in the American culture. ere is an abundance of research on culture and parenting styles and their in uences on children’s academic outcomes, in and out of the U.S. (Chan & Moore, 2006; Dandy & Nettelbeck, 2002a; Glasgow, Dornbusch, Troyer, Steinberg, & Ritter, 1997; Leung, Lau, & Lam, 1998; Rubin & Chung, 2006; Stewart, Bond, Abdullah, & Ma, 2000; Wu et al., 2002). ere has been little research, however, that has speci cally focused on the beliefs and practices of parents of gi ed Chinese American students. is is remarkable given the fact that some proportion of the high percentage of Asian American students in gi ed programs in U.S. schools are Chinese (Kitano & DiJiosia, 2000; Plucker, 1996). Most of the existing studies have focused on Caucasian children and their families (Moon, Jurich, & Feldhusen, 1998), or on parenting related to Asian American children in general (Leung et al., 1998;...
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