Social creativity

An article written by Teemu Nikkola et al. on the connections between creativity and sociality has just been published in the Journal of Early Childhood Research. the purpose of this article was to study children’s social orientations as creative processes in ECEC. We studied the connections between children’s creative thinking abilities and social orientations in interaction situations in ECEC. The results showed that participative orientation had a positive correlation with creative thinking abilities, which were fluency, originality, and imagination. Children’s social orientations inform us of the fruitful conditions for children’s participation in the building of the shared cultural content of ECEC. A participative orientation or changing and open way of acting in social interaction situations can be considered to predict children’s participation in this process. According to Amabile (1996), openness is a prerequisite for creativity. Engaging in the culture and contributing to its transformation are essential elements of both participation and creativity (Glăveanu, 2010). Children’s creative thinking abilities or divergent thinking can be considered to indicate their creative potential(Runco & Acar, 2012). Enhancing children’s creative potential enhances their creativity, but also enhances their possibilities to participate. However, creativity in interaction situations has not been self-evidently supported in ECEC. Teachers have considered the number of socially creative children to be relatively small (Chesnokova & Subbotsky; 2014). In addition, a participative orientation has also been shown to be rare in situations concerning teachers in ECEC (Nikkola et al., 2020).

There were also negative correlations with adaptive orientation and creative thinking abilities and with a withdrawn orientation and fluency. An adaptive and withdrawn orientation are both unchanging ways of acting. In comparison with participative orientation, these types are easier for teachers and more acceptable in ECEC in situations concerning teachers (Nikkola et al., 2020). However, openness to the situation can be considered to enable participation in the building of shared cultural content in ECEC. Within creativity learning can be viewed through its broader, multimodal, and dynamic goals for empowering children through participation, to support them in navigating and experiencing agency in the uncertain world (see OECD, 2018; Kangas etal. 2020). If children often use closed orientations, in other words, dominant and withdrawn orientations, they are in danger of not being creators of the shared content of ECEC culture. Furthermore, an unclear orientation tells us that children have difficulties connecting with the structure of ECEC culture and supporting their participation is essential.

According to Glăveanu (2010), culture can be defined as an accumulation of artifacts (norms, ideas, beliefs, material objects, etc.) that are ever-changing through the personal and collective acts of creativity. He states that creativity is the main engine behind cultural change and transformation. The OECD Education 2030 project states that transversal competencies should be at the center of education: creating new value, reconciling tensions and dilemmas, and taking responsibility (OECD, 2018). Of these, creativity is visible in the first one within the contexts of creativity as innovations and new solutions, as well as within the later ones, together with participation through the context of social relations and problem-solving skills. According to Kangas et al. (2020)to address these “Transformative Competencies” and to support children in being innovative, responsible, and aware, is to consider education through the notion that participation and playfulness is creative learning. In the ECEC setting, creativity can be seen to combine enthusiasm, co-operation, and challenging personal skills and competencies, but only when scaffolded through pedagogical participation by the personnel(Kangas & Harju-Luukkainen, 2021). Enhancing children’s creative thinking abilities, their creative potential, and participating in the building of the shared content of the ECECis essential for the future. Creativity is also an important part of learning and participation in ECEC. Especially play has been considered important for creativity and learning(Kangas et al., 2020). The perspective of creativity is strengthening its importance in the pedagogy of ECEC.

Effective teaching and its effects on early childhood development

In EARLI 2019 conference (Aachen Germany), we had a symposium discussing the comparison of two different teaching practices in two different cultures, Hong Kong and Finland. We examine the relationships between effective teaching and childhood development. Our aim is to compare two different educational cultures by using the same observation instrument in both countries and to reveal the most effective teaching methods both in Finland and Hong Kong. In the picture is our research team in Aachen, from left to right: Jyrki Reunamo (University of Helsinki), project leader James Ko (Education University of Hong Kong), Kathy Sylva (University of Oxford), Pamela Sammons (University of Oxford).


To check criterion-validity we will compare the Finnish PF-observation and American CLASS-observation. Both observations will be conducted in the same groups. Yasmin Fong from the Education University of Hong Kong visited Finland to train four observers. Now we have four observers licenced to do CLASS-observations in Finland. It will be interesting to compare the Finnish PF with the American Class. Furthermore, it will be even more interesting to compare Finnish and Hong Kong Early Education based on the two observation methods. Yasmin will train Hong Kong observers to use also PF in Hong Kong. The picture is from CLASS training with Roosa-Maria Laaksonen, Mari Sillman, Yasmin Fong, Jenny Hietanen and Jouni Veijalainen.

Is child-centered pedagogy really good for children’s learning?

Professor James Ko from the Education University of Hong Kong is visiting Finland.  We will test children’s self-management and pre-academic skills both in Finland and Hong Kong. Then we will observe children’s activities and teachers’ activities. in the follow-up study we will test the children again, seeking to find out what kind of learning environment and teaching style is best for children’s learning. This will help teachers, policymakers and parents understand how effective teaching in two contrastive contexts longitudinally affects children’s learning and their influences at multiple levels of surrounding contexts (classroom, school, education system). We will:
1. Examine the relationships between effective teaching and childhood development:
a) Whether children can learn more from teachers who show more positive teacher-student interactions;
b) Whether child-led, play-based teaching and teacher-led, academically-focused teaching approach have different impacts;
c) Whether a dominant type of teaching approach results in different learning outcomes;
2. To examine a) whether the above relationships change or strengthen over time (following up across three school years) and b) whether there are individual differences.

In the picture, you can see James presenting the pre-academic test. In our project we have already found several key indicators for a deep zone of proximal development. This is the first time we study the longitudinal effect of that zone!

Hong Kong & Finnish Early Education Research funding

Exiting news just arrived from Hong Kong Research Fund (GRF) 2018/19 exercise. Our proposal entitled “Effective Teaching and Their Effects on Early Childhood Development: A Comparative, Longitudinal, Mixed-method Study of Hong Kong and Finnish Kindergartens”, has been supported by the RGC with an approved amount of HK$1,369,000. Warmest congratulations for professor James Ko from the Education University of Hong Kong. Thank you also for Pamela Sammons from the University of Oxford. We will work out the details of the research in 2018  and the data collection starts in 2019. In the picture you can see James, Pam and Jyrki preparing the research plan at EARLI 2018 conference in Tampere.

EARLI 2017 presentations

We have three presentation in EARLI 2017 conference 29 Aug – 2.Sep:

Enhancing Physical Activity in Taiwanese Early Childhood Education and Care Jyrki Reunamo, University of Helsinki, Finland; Li-Chen Wang, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan; Hui-Chun Lee, Tzu Chi University, Taiwan.

How to implement the observation strategies to raise the Quality of Early Childhood Education (ECEC) James Ko, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; Jyrki Reunamo, University of Helsinki, Finland; Hui-Chun Lee, Tzu Chi University, Taiwan; Li-Chen Wang, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan; Hui-Hua Chen, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan; Shu-Shuan Shih, Tzu Chi University, Taiwan.

Progressive feedback in Finnish Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Jyrki Reunamo, University of Helsinki, Finland; Li-Chen Wang, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan; Hui-Chun Lee, Tzu Chi University, Taiwan; Shu-Chuan Shih, National Taitung University, Taiwan; Hui-Hua Chen, Dong Hwa University, Taiwan.

A publication on bullying

The book Contemporary Perspectives on Research on Bullying and Victimization in Early Childhood Education has just been published. The book includes our article Openness and Agency as Strategies for Addressing Bullying. The authors are Jyrki Reunamo, James Ko, Doris Cheng, Hui‐Chun Lee, Li‐Chen Wang, and Essi Salminen. The yearbook is an essential reference in Early Childhood Education research. This is a major recognition for the work and research of our project. Our article presents a rare perspective on children’s strategies to confront bullying. We also see how these strategies are reflected in the everyday activities and interaction. The book can be bought online at the Information Age Publishing’s website.  The direct link is:

Bullying and learning

Our article based on Orientation project data has been accepted for publication in the series Contemporary Perspectives in Early Childhood Education The series is globally perhaps the most important yearbook on Early Childhood Education. The publication is a major recognition of the work we are doing in our project. In the article we study bullying from the perspective of learning, which is a new opening in the study of bullying. Learning often helps to process bullying, but in can also result in confrontation, withdrawness or attempt to accept the bullying as a fact. It is also possible that the child learns nothing in the bullying situation, which means that nothing changes. Luckily, as children grow, the bullied child gets perspective and agency to process the situation, but unfortunately some children face a dead end. Article info: Reunamo, J., Ko, J., Cheng, D., Lee, H-C., Wang, L-C. & Salminen, E. (In print). Openness and agency as strategies on addressing bullying. In O. Saracho (Ed.) Contemporary research on bullying in early childhood education. IAP Publishing: USA.

QCCI conference


At the 2015 Quality Childhood Conference International (QCCI) at 19th June in Hong Kong, an Orientation project symposium was organized. Presenters from Hong Kong, Finland and Taiwan described the project results. In the picture conference chair Doris Cheng presents the differences in children’s orientations at play-based and academic preschools in Hong Kong. The presentations were:

  • Reunamo, J. T.: Orientation project: Studying the impact of children’s views in early years
  • Lee, H-C., Wang, L-C. & Shih, S-C. Involvement of child learning- Empirical findings in Finland and Taiwan
  • Cheng, D. Orientation Project on children’s Views
  • Ko, J. Orientation projects in Hong Kong (2) – Does social orientation affect children’s school readiness?
  • Chen, H-H. Scaffolded play and learning
  • Julienne Pek: Orientation project in Singapore

The conference was also a great place for networking and synchronization of the project. Special thanks for Doris Cheng for the opportunity.

Children’s orientations in play-based and academically focused preschools in Hong Kong

Children in the academically oriented preschool had more uncertain and less participative orientations than those in the play-based preschool. Especially boys were vulnerable in conflict settings.  Play-based environment was related with children’s capacities for agentive and participative social engagement, suggesting that play provides children with the opportunity to develop more versatile social tools and strategies. These competences are of vital importance for successful engagement in collective settings such as classrooms and schools. It may be that through play children can practice the production of shared content together with others, which is essential in work and social relations in general. The article can be accessed through the link below:

Cheng, D., Reunamo, J., Cooper, P., Liu, K. & Vong, K. P. (2015). Children’s agentive orientations in play-based and academically focused preschools in Hong Kong. Early child development and care.