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An intervention to increase conversational turns between parents and young children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2020

Kathryn A. LEECH*
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Meredith L. ROWE
Harvard University, Graduate School of Education
Address for correspondence: Kathryn Leech 301N Peabody Hall CB 3500 Chapel Hill, NC27599 E-mail:; (919) 843-6158


Behavioral and neural evidence indicates that young children who engage in more conversations with their parents have better later language skills such as vocabulary and academic language abilities. Previous studies find that the extent to which parents engage in conversational turn-taking with children varies considerably. How, then, can we promote extended conversations between parents and their children? Instead of asking parents to engage in longer turn-taking episodes, we provided parents with information on conversational content that we hypothesized would lead to increased episodes of longer, more sustained conversational turn-taking. Specifically, we found that boosting the frequency of parent-child talk about abstract, non-present concepts – decontextualized language – led to an increase in dyadic conversational turn-taking during home mealtimes several weeks later.

Brief Research Report
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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