Exploring diversity within "poverty:" The role of education and emotional well-being in mothers' metacognitive questions to children

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Research in Human Development


Research on children's cognitive development has documented the causal role of parent language on children's subsequent metacognitive reasoning. Although the effects of poverty have been addressed in the past, little is known about diversity among families labeled as "low socioeconomic status" (SES). In this study, we used the Mother/Child Interaction in Low Income Families database from the Henry Murray Diversity Archives to investigate mothers' metacognitive question use with their preschool children in 4 separate activities. Hundreds of mother/child variables including psychological function; emotional well-being; academic, cognitive, and behavioral assessments; along with numerous household, neighborhood, and community measures were explored. We used principal components factor analysis and multiple regression to explore clusters of family variables that may be predictive of mothers' metacognitive questions to children. Results suggest a broad and complex set of factors that can account for metacognitive language use in the home. We found key predictive areas to center around parenting style, mothers' self-efficacy, and mother and child affective and intellectual ability.