Center for Infant Research
The Center for Infant Research belongs to the University of Turku and operates in partnership with the Turku Insitute for Child and Youth Research.
The Center for Infant Research, Rauma, is promoting multidisciplinary research concerning lifelong education in the preverbal period and beyond. This age has more developmental potential than any other period of life. According to Finnish law, families with under three year old babies have a subjective right to day care, according to the family needs. However, pedagogical resourcing and research is just beginning.
Research professor: Aili Helenius, Ph.D.
Senior Researcher: Riitta Korhonen, Ph.D.
Project Early joins together a group of researches from early childhood education, psychology, and special education from five countries (Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland, and Sweden). The focus of this multiparadigm undertaking lies in the development of preverbal infants before the age of three years. Early development of abilities, like the ability to move, imagination, speech, and pro-social, caring attitudes are being longitudinally observed. Videotape observations are microanalysed in relation to child - adult and child-child interaction in varying pedagogical contexts such as the home-environment and child care institutions. (premature born children and those with handicaps are included). Topics of education, like orientation to language, music and mathematics in the life of a small child are included. Eight doctoral theses are being undertaken in the project.
The purpose is to heighten the level of approach in infant research via international networking. The results will be used to promote the level of early education of infants and that of the institutional care of children in the contributing countries.
Key words: Communication, Infant Development, Interaction, Parenting, Special Education, Early Childhood Education
Development of Communication, Dialogical Self and Discourse with Mothers
Consortium Early is a multidisciplinary project, which combines knowledge from early education, special needs and psychology. We need to bridge gaps, which have appeared in children’s development as a consequence of changes in family lifestyles. Attempts have been made to address these problems through increasing the number of staff providing therapy. This alone, however, is insufficient.
Children under the age of three years are at a stage characterised by powerful development of creative abilities. The basis for a wide range of mental activities is created during these years. However, it is also during this period that unfavourable conditions may establish the roots of problems. The character of interaction, quality of care and educational content are the building blocks of personality. Early education at home and institutions affects how children later cope with the challenges of the school years and of working life, how they relate to one another, and what kind of values and social content they adopt. Investment in the early years and in relationships prevents conflicts and saves the later use of remedial resources.
The purpose of this multipart study is to theoretically open up the earliest transitions in the developing sense of self of children under three years of age and to compare the conditions for the formation of the dialogical self found in different educational cultures. The aim is to build a concept of a child’s potential and of the formation of his relationships and abilities in the family setting, in interaction with his peers and in day-care conditions. In the various part-projects, the life of the small child is analysed, including the cultural variations apparent in care and nurturing, family situations in which children experience special problems (such as prematurely born children or those with handicaps) as well as situations in which these difficulties do not occur.
With quantitative and qualitative methods, this multiparadigm method of approach using long-term video observations focuses on the theoretical analysis of children’s development and transitions in their contextual relationships. International cooperation in the field of early years pedagogy is promoted by the fact that the Consortium comprises members from Germany, Finland and Poland, as well as drawing on the expertise of individuals from Estonia and Sweden.