Syntax is an important aspect of children's early literacy development, according to the authors of a new article published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly. However, the rate at which children develop syntax reflects, at least in part, their care-giving environment. This study looks at patterns of child–teacher talk within preschool classrooms, an important developmental context for young children and particularly those from low socio-economic households.
The research found that the children's use of complex syntax appeared to be influenced by the teachers’ use of complex syntax, but also vice versa. Children's use of complex or simple syntax increased the likelihood that teachers would mirror their syntactic level. The authors suggest this work, based on data from a larger study, is a step towards addressing issues that may have direct, translatable implications for early education practice and intervention efforts.
One of the authors, Laura Justice, has also contributed an article to the latest issue of Better: Evidence-based Education which focuses on literacy (Spring 2013). The article, Improving Children's Language Skills Through Classroom Conversations, describes the evaluation of a project to train teachers to provide advanced language models to help prevent later reading difficulties.
Source: Bi-directional Dynamics Underlie the Complexity of Talk in Teacher–child Play-based Conversations in Classrooms Serving At-risk Pupils (2013), Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(3).