Spatial language during a household task with bilingual Latine families

Gigliana Melzi, Verónica Mesalles, Margaret Caspe, Nydia Prishker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children's exposure to everyday math talk contributes positively to their early math development, yet little is known about family everyday math in culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The present study described the spatial language used by 75 low-income, bilingual, Latine caregivers as they taught their preschoolers to set a table for a birthday party. Forty percent of caregivers' content-rich utterances contained math references, half of which were spatial terms. “Where” spatial references were the most frequent and used to provide instructions. Analyses comparing Spanish and English interactions showed variations in spatial language types and manners of use, as well as in the relation between adult and child math talk. Results underscore the need to build foundational knowledge in early math with culturally and linguistically diverse families, and to encompass a wide range of everyday adult-child interactions, in an effort to forge equitable STEM initiatives and practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101409
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • Early math interactions
  • Language differences
  • Latine families
  • Latino/Hispanic
  • Parent-child conversations
  • Spatial talk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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