Culture Post: To Boost a Preschooler’s Language Skills, Consider Reminiscing

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by ScienceDaily.

Language skills are strong predictors of academic, socioemotional, and behavioral outcomes when children enter school. They learn language in preschool years by interacting with others, especially their parents. Book sharing is a popular way parents engage young children in conversation. However, not all parents are comfortable with book sharing, and not all children like having books read to them.

A new study on “parent talk” by Florida Atlantic University, in collaboration with Aarhus University in Denmark, provides an alternative. To boost the quality of a preschooler’s language experience and skills, consider reminiscing with them.

To determine the effects of encouraging parents to reminisce with their children, researchers examined the properties of conversations between Danish parents and their 3- to 5-year-old children as they engaged in three different activities. The parents and children were asked to share a wordless picture book (book sharing), reminisce about past events, and build with LEGO bricks.

From transcripts of parent-child conversations in these three activities, researchers measured properties of parent speech that have been found to be related to children’s language development. They also measured how much the children talked, as child output has also been found to be a positive predictor of their language growth.

Results of the study, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, reveal that reminiscing is very good at eliciting high quality speech from parents, and in many ways, is just as good as book sharing. Book sharing and reminiscing were higher than toy play on three measures of interactive quality: less frequent use of directives, more frequent use of what/who/where questions, and more frequent use of why/how questions.

Source: ScienceDaily

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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