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Family Engagement and Latine Children’s Early Narrative Skills

Abstract

The present study examined the concurrent relations between culture-specific dimensions of family engagement for low-income, Pan-Latine families and children’s narrative ability, a critical predictor of reading success. One hundred seventy-five children and their caregivers were recruited from seven Head Start centers in a large city in the northeastern region of the US. Family engagement was assessed through a culturally grounded instrument (McWayne et al. 2013; McWayne and Melzi 2014) that measures parental behavior along one school-based and three home-based engagement dimensions. Children’s spontaneous narrative productions were elicited through two tasks: a picture-elicited and a conversational narrative task. Findings showed that family engagement dimensions were differentially related to important aspects of children’s narrative production, even after accounting for child and parent demographic characteristics. Specifically, families’ efforts to provide stimulating experiences for their children beyond “the basics” (i.e., Supplemental Education) were significantly related to children’s ability to tell longer narratives during the picture-elicited narrative task. In addition, parents’ active school-based engagement (i.e., School Participation) was significantly associated with children’s ability to narrate independently in the conversational narrative task.

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Notes

  1. Given that the research reported here was conducted within a Spanish-speaking community, we use the Spanish language gender-inclusive ending and thus use Latine (instead of Latinx) to refer to individuals whose cultural background originated in Latin America (see also de Onís 2017; Zentella 2017). Participants, however, identified their ethno-cultural background as Latino or they used their country of origin (i.e., Mexican).

  2. We chose MLU-w over MLU-m as children produced translanguaged narratives, or some children narrated in Spanish and others in English. Past research shows that MLU-w is the most accurate gross measure of sentence length with cross-linguistic samples (e.g., Simon-Cereijido and Gutiérrez-Clellen 2009).

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by an NICHD R03 grant (5R03HD50363-2), and an Administration for Children and Families, Head Start-University English Language Learners Partnership Grant (#90YR0043), both awarded to the first and second authors.

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Melzi, G., McWayne, C. & Ochoa, W. Family Engagement and Latine Children’s Early Narrative Skills. Early Childhood Educ J 50, 83–95 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-020-01132-7

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Keywords

  • Narratives
  • Early literacy
  • Family engagement
  • Dual-language
  • Immigrant
  • Preschool