Child playing in the woods.

Child politics and early childhood

(Theme leader: Maiju Paananen and Zsuzsa Millei)

Research in this group explores the politics of childhood and early childhood education, child politics. By the term ‘politics’ we refer to the the workings of power both in official and everyday realms. Politics shape in explicit and covert ways notions of childhood, care and education, and children’s everyday lives and actions. We understand children and educators as political actors. We seek answers to the question of how societal, technological, and environmental changes shape childhood(s), early childhood education, and the everyday lives of children. Thus, our research explores for example datafication, gender, ethnicity, coloniality, nationhood and multiple worldviews in the production of childhood and social, economic, and regional inequalities.

Professionalism as relational practice

(Theme leader: Päivi Kupila)

’Professionalism as relational practice’ research area examines the professionalism and expertise of early childhood education (ECE) workers as a framework for the constant change of work and operating environments. Research themes include professionalism, professional development and identity, relational expertise in the face of different operating systems, mentoring, supervision, leadership, crossing professional and institutional boundaries, and interprofessional cooperation.

The theme – professional spaces – defines individual and community work practices, professional roles and dimensions of power and responsibility. In connection with the theme, national and international co-operation is carried out, for example, in the international research network of ECE leaders. Recently, research findings in peer mentoring have been used to consider its potential to support ECE professionals in the diversity of professional and working life.

In addition to working professionals, the target group of the study is student teachers, whose transition from education to working life and the early stages of working life have been examined. In addition, the research focuses on students’ supervision during practicum.


Child development and diverse needs in early years

(Theme leader: Juliene Madureira Ferreira)

Research in this group investigates diverse individual and interactional phenomena impacting children’s development and learning in early years. We understand learning and development as an intertwined process that is social and emotional in nature, thus dependent of environmental, cultural, and over generational affordances and social, emotional and multisensory enactments. The scope of our research interests is wide and includes topics such as children’s well-being and health; children’s self-regulation, reflection, and agency; music education and musical-linguistic and holistic interaction, language, and artistic and skill-based learning; special education and early intervention; embodied learning and intersubjectivity in development. However, our focus remains on the dynamic relations within the child’s different social-emotional contexts and the micro-level, multisensory practices in place. Our studies are interdisciplinary and employ diverse methods that combine different types of data, such as self-report, observational (including sounding and video-based) and physiological data.


Please see all subgroups’ projects listed here