Lucia Alcalá, assistant professor of psychology and a mother of three, asked Maya mothers in Yucatan, Mexico what age children help with household work.
“‘As soon as they can sit or walk,'” said Alcalá, explaining that babies learn by simply observing chores. “Other mothers reported that as soon as a child can walk, he or she can help by picking up toys or clothes.”
Alcalá grew up in a small town in southern Mexico, where it was normal for children to substantially help with household work. She saw a different picture when she migrated to California at the age of 14, not knowing then that it would become the foundation of her research.
Now, at Cal State Fullerton, Alcalá studies parenting and child development across diverse communities. Her recent work focuses on how Maya children from Yucatan, Mexico, learn to help as they participate in family and community activities. She envisions her work to be part of a new line of research that centers on the marginalized voices and experiences of children of color. The Spencer Foundation recently awarded her a nearly $50,000 grant to expand research in this area.
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