Reminiscing and future talk: early childhood educators, young children and their mothers in conversation
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 01:25 authored by Rebecca Andrews
A rich body of sociocultural memory research has considered how mothers reminisce with their young children. Likewise, research into mother-child future talk conversations has examined children's understanding for future events. This thesis extends the contemporary research with mothers and children to consider how early childhood educators interact with young children in reminiscing and future talk conversations. Twenty-one educators from seven long daycare centres in Sydney, Australia were recruited and each paired with up to six younger (27-36 months) or older (48-60 months) children in their care. A subset of mothers also engaged in conversations with their children. Over two counterbalanced sessions, each educator-child (N = 85) and mother-child dyad (n = 42) separately discussed four past and four future self-nominated events. All conversations were coded for elaboration (total elaborations, elaborative style) and content (temporal language, mental state language). Findings were fourfold. First, educators' total elaborations were significantly associated with child elaboration across all event conversations, whereas educator elaborative style was associated with child elaboration for past novel conversations only. Second, educators varied in the way they talked about events; elaboration and temporal language differed by temporal focus (past/future) while mental state language differed by event type (novel/familiar). Third, educators and mothers talked differently about events. Consequently, children received different support from different conversational partners. Finally, educator qualifications were found to make a difference. Educators with degree qualifications were generally more elaborative than educators with diploma qualifications, though educators varied within each qualification level. Taken together, the findings highlight that educators serve an important role scaffolding children in reminiscing and future talk conversations. Future longitudinal and intervention studies will inform further understanding of high quality educator-child reminiscing and future talk conversations and should indicate how these conversations can potentially offer an ameliorating benefit for children not engaged in high quality conversations in other contexts.