British Journal of Developmental Psychology

Skip to Search

Skip to Navigation

Volume 37 Issue 2 (June 2019), Pages i-iv, 149-307

Parental use of spatial language and gestures in early childhood (pages 149-167)

Parents’ use of spatial language and gestures is closely linked to children's spatial language development. Little is known about the quantity and quality of early spatial input and how infants’ individual characteristics may be related to the spatial input they receive. Here, we examine (1) the amount and type of spatial input 16‐ to 21‐month‐old Turkish‐learning children (n = 34) received in the context of a spatial activity (puzzle play) and (2) whether parental spatial input in the form of speech and gesture varies based on children's age, sex, and early spatial vocabulary comprehension assessed in an earlier session. Results of the regression analyses showed that parents’ use of spatial words was predicted by children's age over and beyond earlier spatial word comprehension and sex. In particular, parents used more spatial speech as their children got older even in this restricted age range. Children's early spatial word comprehension also correlated with parents’ spatial word production. Yet, parents’ overall gesture use and gestures with spatial words were not predicted by children's age, sex, or early spatial word comprehension. These findings suggest that in the spatial domain, early verbal input, but not gestural input, can change depending on children's age and children's spatial vocabulary comprehension may also be related to parental use of later spatial language. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Parents enhance their children's spatial skills using spatial language and gestures. Parental spatial talk is related to children's later spatial skills. What does this study add? We assess both spatial talk and gesture in early childhood. We examine the children's characteristics (age, sex) in relation to spatial talk and gesture. We present how children's earlier vocabulary competence relates to parental input.

Add This link

Bookmark and Share>