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Areas of Research:

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Family Reminiscing as a Context for Child Development

Area Summary:

We have conducted a series of observational and intervention studies examining whether and how family reminiscing practices foster children's development, including literacy, language, socioemotional and self-regulation skills. These studies involve diverse age ranges (preschool, kindergarten and first-grade) and socio-cultural contexts (low-income African American, Chinese, European American and Latino families living in the U.S., low-income Chilean families living in their home country, mixed-SES families living in New Zealand). Our work shows that the way parents invite children to contribute to the conversation is linked to the development of children's skills in both observational and experimental settings. We have also found that the methods used to code maternal elaboration in reminiscing contexts differentially relate to children's outcomes. The evidence obtained by these reminiscing studies has been incorporated to the curriculum of the Food For Thought intervention program. Families learn how to reminisce with their children during mealtime.


Funded by:

  • University of Otago (GRFS project - awarded to E. Reese)
  • Fundación Educacional Oportunidad (Un Buen Comienzo project - awarded to H. Yoshikawa & C. Snow)
  • National Science Foundation (MetroBaby project - awarded to C. Tamis-LeMonda & H. Yoshikawa)
  • National Institute of Health (PLP project - awarded to E. Reese)

Related Publications:

  1. Leyva, D., Catalan, D., Suarez, C., Tamis-LeMonda, C. & Yoshikawa, H. (2021). Mother-child reminiscing and first-graders' emotion competence in a low-income and ethnically diverse sample. Journal of Cognition and Development. doi: 10.1080/15248372.2021.1908293
  2. Leyva, D., Reese, E., Laible, D., Schaughency, E., Das, S., & Clifford, A. (2020). Measuring parents' elaborative reminiscing: Differential links of parents' elaboration to children's autobiographical memory and socioemotional skills. Journal of Cognition and Development, 21, 23-45. doi: 10.1080/15248372.2019.1668395
  3. Leyva, D., & Smith, M. (2016). Beyond book reading: Narrative participation styles in family reminiscing predict children's print-related literacy in low-income Chilean families. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. 37, 175-185. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2016.04.005.
  4. Leyva, D., & Nolivos, V. (2015). Spanish-speaking family reminiscing about emotions and its relation to children’s self-regulation skills. Early Education and Development, 26, 770-791. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2015.1037625.
  5. Leyva, D., Berrocal, M., & Nolivos, V. (2014). Spanish-speaking parent-child emotional narratives and children’s social problem-solving skills. Journal of Cognition and Development, 15, 22-42. doi:10.1080/15248372.2012.725188.
  6. Nolivos, V., & Leyva, D. (2013). Fun and Frustrations: Low-income Chilean parents reminiscing with their children about past emotional experiences. Actualidades en Psicología, 27, 31-48. doi: 10.15517/ap.v27i115.9278.
  7. Leyva, D., Sparks, A., & Reese, E. (2012). The link between preschoolers’ phonological awareness and mothers’ book reading and reminiscing practices in low-income families. Journal of Literacy Research, 44, 426-447. doi: 10.1177/1086296X12460040.
  8. Reese, E., Leyva, D., Sparks, A. & Grolnick, W. (2010). Maternal elaborative reminiscing increases low-income children’s narrative skills relative to dialogic reading. Early Education and Development, 21, 318-342. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2010.481552.
  9. Reese, E., Sparks, A., & Leyva, D. (2010). A review of parent interventions for preschool children’s language and emergent literacy. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 10, 97-117. doi: 10.1177.1468798409356987. Reprinted in: K. Pahl & J. Rowsell. (Eds.) (in press). Early Childhood Literacy. London: Sage Publications.
  10. Leyva, D., Reese, E., Grolnick, W., & Price, C. (2009). Elaborative structure and autonomy support in low-income mothers reminiscing: Links to children’s autobiographical narratives. Journal of Cognition and Development, 9, 363-389. doi: 10.1080/15248370802678158.

In the news

May 16, 2022

Dr. Leyva was cited by BBC about her research on parent questions during reminiscing and later child behavior in school. Source

February 4, 2013

Dr. Leyva is interviewed by Dr. Elizabeth Baker in the podcast "The Voice of Literacy" about preschoolers' phonological awareness, mothers' book reading and reminiscing. Source