Parents’ distancing language—language that requires cognitive abstraction and moves beyond the “here and now”—relates to children's literacy skills, but its association with mathematics remains unexamined. Participants were 242 mother–child dyads from African American, Chinese American, Dominican American, and Mexican American backgrounds. Mothers’ distancing language was examined while mothers shared a wordless book with their 5-year-olds; children's math and literacy skills were assessed when children were 5.0 and 6.5 years of age. Mothers’ distancing language, but not amount of language (word tokens), related to children's concurrent math and literacy skills. Mothers’ distancing language predicted growth in children's literacy skills over time and related to later math indirectly through associations with early math. The importance of distancing language for cognitive growth may have implications for parenting and classroom practice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology