What is it about?

Parent-child interactions, which are filled with verbal and nonverbal behaviors, provide a window into how children develop new ideas. Here, we explore the communicative strategies in two U.S. communities - the Menominee, living on tribal lands in rural Wisconsin, and non-Native, primarily white families living in an urban area - as parents and children played with a nature diorama.

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Why is it important?

This study was designed and implemented in partnership with members of the Menominee community, with whom we have a longstanding collaboration. Non-native and Native-American parents and children engage in rich, multi-modal communication when talking and playing. We find that Native-American children match or surpass their non-native peers in amount of talk, and amount of gesture, demonstrating the value of dyadic interaction for transmitting cultural knowledge.


It is a privilege to be able to work with this rich dataset and bring my expertise in language and gesture development to this study. I learned a great deal about the history and culture of the Menominee people, and am grateful for the opportunity to share this story.

Miriam Novack
Northwestern University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Hands on: Nonverbal communication in Native and non-Native American parent–child dyads during informal learning., Developmental Psychology, January 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/dev0001279.
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