SAGA – supporting social and emotional development in Early Childhood Education and Care

There is a growing concern for small children developing social and emotional disorders. Social and emotional understanding in children is closely related to language development and to interaction with supporting caregivers. SAGA is a research and development project that aims to support 3-5 year old children’s social and emotional development by shared story book reading with mentalizing dialogues. Mentalizing dialogues are defined as dialogs enhancing children’s interest in and understanding of feelings, thoughts and intentions in one-self and others. In addition, SAGA aims to support professional development in ECEC teachers and personnel, as well as the development of the children. The hypothesis are that mentalizing dialogues in shared story book reading will

  • Enhance social and emotional development in children and promote school readiness.
  • Enhance children’s language development. In particular, this is important for children from multilingual backgrounds and children with adversities in their home environment.
  • Enhance the professional capacities in pre-school teachers and other personnel in mentalizing interaction with children.

PI Mirjam Kalland, Professor in Early Childhood Education and Care, University of Helsinki

PI Kristiina Kumpulainen, Professor in Education, University of Helsinki/Visiting professor, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Tanja Linnavalli, Project coordinator, postdoctoral researcher, University of Helsinki

Mia Heikkilä, Senior researcher, Åbo Akademi University.

Hannah Kaihovirta, University Lecturer, aes­thetic stud­ies di­dactics, University of Helsinki

Marjo Savijärvi, University Lecturer, Uni­versity lec­turer, di­dactics of Finnish language, University of Helsinki

Kalland M. SAGA – supporting social and emotional development in Early Childhood Education. Keynote and Workshop in Miradas – I Congreso Internacional sobre Calidad Educativa en la Primera Infancia, 22-23.5.2019, Lima, Peru.

SAGA is cooperating with public ECEC centers in the metropolitan area and City of Vaasa, as well as with Mannerheim League for Child Welfare and Folkhälsans förbund. The project is funded years 2019-2022 by Svenska Kulturfonden.

International cooperation

Dra. Clara Jessica Vargas D'Uniam, Docente del Departamento de Educación

Coordinadora de la Carrera de Educación Inicial


Prof. Linda C Mayes, Yale Child Study Center, Yale University and Associate professor Helena Rutherford, Yale Child Study Center, Yale University