This study ascertains the extent to which children's intellectual ability and factors in the family environment (paternal and maternal education, and quality of the family environment) and in preschool (the age at which children start preschool and preschool quality) are linked to children's language competence (language comprehension, language expression, and metalinguistic awareness). The sample comprised 115 five-year-old children that were attending a Slovenian preschool. The adopted path model of relationship between variables was checked using structural equation modeling (SEM). This model - which includes children's intellectual ability, preschool quality, children's ages when they started preschool, quality of family environment, and maternal education as exogenous variables, as well as parents' and children's reading together and an estimate of the three areas of verbal development as endogenous variables - has good fit. It makes it possible to explain the 16% of variability in the results obtained on the Language Comprehension Scale, the 7% of variability in the results obtained on the Language Expression Scale, and the 9% of variability in the results obtained on the Metalinguistic Awareness Scale. The results also indicate that the best predictors of children's language development are the development of their intellectual ability and parents' and children's reading together. Maternal education is indirectly linked to children's language competence, specifically through reading together, whereas paternal education is seen to be the least important predictor. Consequently, we also excluded this variable from the final model.
L. Marjanovic Umek, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Department of Psychology, Askerceva 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
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