Talking about past experiences in two cultural contexts: Children’s narrative structure and maternal elaboration in dyads from Costa Rica and the United States




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Carmiol Barboza, Ana María
Kelly, Kimberly R.
Ocular, Grace
Ríos Reyes, Marcela
González Chaves, Melissa
Plascencia, Jesús

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Research findings: This study examined cross-cultural differences in the structure of preschoolers’ narratives, cross-cultural differences in maternal elaboration during reminiscing and the links between the two. We report evidence from middle-class, monolingual samples from Costa Rica and the United States. Results revealed that U.S. children provided more coherently sequenced narratives than Costa Rican children. We also found that Costa Rican and U.S. mothers emphasized different aspects of elaboration while reminiscing with their children. Costa Rican mothers produced significantly more open-ended questions; whereas U.S. mothers provided more pieces of new information. No relationship was found between maternal elaboration style and children’s ability to provide coherently sequenced narratives across samples. Practice or policy: Findings are discussed in light of their implications for distinct cultural models of narrative development. They highlight cross-cultural differences in narrative sequencing development that are important for educators to understand in order to provide appropriate scaffolds as children accomplish milestones toward later literacy acquisition.


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