Social and emotional development in early childhood education and care

Briefly in English

SAGA is a research and development project that aims to support children’s social and emotional development. Social and emotional development refers to a child’s growing ability to express, name and regulate their feelings and their ability to interpret other’s feelings and help others. Social and emotional understanding in children is closely related to language development and the interaction with supporting caregivers. 


The aim of the project

SAGA aims to support 3–5-year-old children’s social and emotional development by shared story book reading with mentalizing dialogues. Having mentalizing dialogues with children enhances their interest in and understanding of their own and other’s internal reality. They also learn to better put into words and understand feelings, thoughts and intentions in one-self and others. In addition to supporting children’s development, SAGA aims to support professional development in ECEC teachers and personnel. Our research in the SAGA model shows that mentalizing dialogues together with shared story book reading can: 

  • enhance social and emotional development and prosocial behavior in children

  • easily be integrated with the work in ECEC 


Cooperation and funding

SAGA has cooperated with public ECEC centers in Southern Finland. SAGA has also cooperated with the CREDU project.

The project is funded by Svenska Kulturfonden.