Storytelling in early childhood: Do the preschool and family environment matter?  

Marjanovič Umek L., Fekonja Peklaj U.
First author's affiliation: Faculty of Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Storytelling is one of child’s pragmatic competences which is based on the expression of decontextualized contents and develops rapidly in the early childhood. The development of storytelling is affected by different factors in child’s environment, such as symbolic play or joint reading. The aim of the present study was to examine whether the child’s enrollment into a preschool institution, maternal education and the quality of home literacy environment represent important factors of child’s storytelling. The sample included 229 children, aged approximately 6 years, who at the time of the assessment, visited 1st grade of primary school. Children differed in the years they have spent in preschool prior to the primary school enrollment (children visiting preschool for 5 or 3 years and children not enrolled into preschool) and their mother’s educational level. Stories, spontaneously told by children while looking at the pictures, were analyzed with respect to the level of their coherence and cohesion using the criteria designed and established in some of our previous studies. The quality of home environment was assessed using the Home Literacy Environment Questionnaire (Marjanovič Umek, Podlesek, & Fekonja, 2005). The findings suggest that child’s enrollment into preschool, especially at the age of three, has a significant effect on his/her storytelling competence. Six years old children who entered preschool at the age of three told more coherent and cohesive stories than their peers who were not enrolled into preschool prior to entering primary school. The positive effect of preschool on child’s storytelling was evident in the group of children whose mothers had a high level of education. Maternal education proved to have a positive effect on the developmental level of child’s storytelling as well as correlated with the quality of child’s home environment related to mother’s correct use of language.