In the presented family study, we analysed sociocultural aspects of family environment in order to explain the differences in children's language. Within two studies, we proposed two path models to examine direct and indirect effects of both distal (e.g. parental education, index of family possessions, complexity of parental speech, parental reading literacy) and proximal factors (e.g. literacy activities, shared reading, parental use of mental transformations) of family environment on language of toddlers and children in early childhood. The sample included 99 families with toddlers and children, aged from 1 to 6 years. The data on the characteristics of family environment and toddlers'/children's language competence were collected directly within the family environment, namely via the interviews with parents, behavioural observations and with the use of standardised developmental tests. We found that social, economic and cultural factors of family environment both directly and indirectly affected the language of toddlers and children in early childhood. Highly educated parents and parents with a higher index of family possessions tended to structure child's environment in a more supportive way as well as scaffolded toddlers' and children's language development. Furthermore, the findings showed that the effects of measured distal factors on toddlers'/children's language were also mediated by different literacy activities during which parents supported children's language and early literacy. Symbolic play and parental use of mental transformations during interactive play with a child confirmed to be an important context for encouraging toddlers' and children's language within the family, as it proved to directly affect the language of toddlers and children as well as to mediate the effect of parental speech on toddler's/child's language.
The article presents cooperation between a higher education expert and primary school teachers, established with the aim to raise the level of literacy. The action research drew on the teachers' attitude to literacy: they mostly do not know enough about it, differentiation in reading instruction is weak, in particular the differentiation of reading tasks. Literacy is considered to be the core competence, but reading motivation is not understood as its crucial component. They also believe that Slovenia should be benchmarked against other countries, and that literacy development is related to a wider social context. The teachers' responses can be summarized in four views: every teacher is a reading mentor, more attention should be paid to various types of reading motivation and to reading tasks for different levels, and collaboration with parents is necessary for literacy development. These findings paved the way for the educational programme for teachers, focused on the interlinked motivational factors (intrinsic, extrinsic and social), the diversity and different complexity levels of both reading material and reading tasks (retrieving, interpreting and evaluating information in texts). At the end of the action research the teachers' reading materials were revised, indicating a shift to more complex reading tasks. In the closure questionnaire the teachers expressed their increased attention to reading literacy and greater awareness of their own role in reading motivation.