We explored the perceptions of children's cognitive development among Moroccan Arabic and Berber immigrant mothers who cannot read, who are less educated, middle educated or highly educated in the Netherlands. A series of in-depth interviews was conducted with 22 mothers with young children (mean age = 5 years and 6 months). Qualitative data analyses revealed five major themes that are of significant importance to these mothers: moral attitudes, social values and religiousness; conversation, reading and playing as stimulating activities; importance attached to education; parental expectations; attributions of school success. The parental perceptions about the cognitive development of young children differed according to their own educational level. Mothers who cannot read and mothers with less education emphasized the development of moral, social and religious values for strengthening the cultural identity of their children. This sense of identity would enable them to function within their own cultural group and help them to perform well at school. School success was attributed in large part to a combination of the efforts of the child and the school. Middle and highly educated mothers, on the other hand, valued scholastic development and attributed school success to their own efforts and to the kind of support the child received. The ethnic background of the parents, whether Arabic or Berber, did not make a difference in the perceptions.

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Keywords Cognitive development, Moroccan immigrants, Parent-child interaction, Parental perceptions, Parental stimulation
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10826-010-9401-8, hdl.handle.net/1765/25127