New project seeks answers about the needs of preschool children

11 March 2021

Child at preschool

A new project at the Uppsala Child and Baby Lab will study children in a preschool environment.

Preschool age is an important period for human social, emotional and cognitive development. Despite this, we still do not know how to design childhood environments to best meet their needs. In a new project supported by Skandia’s “Ideas for Life” foundation, researchers at Uppsala University’s Child and Baby Lab will study child development and knowledge in the preschool environment.

Gustaf Gredebäck
Gustaf Gredebäck, a professor at the Department
of Psychology. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

“Several important changes take place in a child’s life during their preschool years,” says Gustaf Gredebäck, director of the new preschool project and a professor at the Child and Baby Lab, Department of Psychology, Uppsala University. “This lays the foundation for a child’s social, cognitive and emotional development, allowing them to take their first steps into social contexts outside the family. This is also when they start learning in more structured environments and meet and interact with children and adults from different backgrounds.”

To offer future generations the best possible conditions during these critical years, we need to conduct more research.

“Attending a high quality preschool gives children a solid basis for both school and life, something that makes a socially and economically sustainable society possible,” says Gredebäck.

Within the project, researchers at the Department of Psychology and the Department of Pedagogy, Didactics and Educational Studies at Uppsala University will focus on developing tools that can be used in a preschool environment to measure children’s development, knowledge, attitudes and abilities. But they will also study the preschool staff’s knowledge and attitude towards the curriculum and survey how preschool teachers include subject knowledge in everyday activities. The purpose is to promote transversal knowledge about child development, the effect of different teaching methods and how parents can best be involved in their children’s development and learning.

“By laying a foundation for the establishment of a future Centre for Preschool Research, we want to contribute to increased knowledge in the field. This research can take us a step further in that direction,” says Stina Liljekvist, chair of the Ideas for Life foundation.