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13-05-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 8/2019

Journal of Child and Family Studies 8/2019

Latino Families Engage in Elaborative Conversations: Effects on Children’s Recall and Vocabulary

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 8/2019
Karen L. Thierry, Alison Sparks
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10826-019-01446-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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This study examined whether training Latina mothers, during a home visiting program, to engage in elaborative reminiscing (ER) with their preschool-aged children would lead to improvements in their children’s recall of events and vocabulary.


Three-year-old children and their mothers were randomly assigned to an ER group or an active control group. During a 4-month period, mothers in the ER group used strategies to elicit personal narratives from their child. Over the same period, mothers in a control group engaged in games and activities with their child.


At the 4-month posttest, mothers who participated in ER asked fewer closed-ended questions about a past event than controls (Cohen d = 0.49). Their children’s personal narratives included more descriptive and nonverbal enactment event details than the control children (ds ranged from 0.53 to 0.56). A year later, children in the ER group had significantly higher receptive English vocabulary scores than controls (d = 0.83). The possibility for transfer of mothers’ ER strategies to book reading was also examined, but no significant effects were found.


Results support the feasibility and benefits of an elaborative conversations intervention for Latino parents and children. Gains in children’s narrative skills were consistent with prior research in which Latino families construct stories in culturally specific ways.

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