Saskia van Schaik

Assistant Professor
Departments of Philosophy of Behavioural Sciences, and Pedagogic Sciences and Education
Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands
Associate Director, CHHD

saskia van schaik

van Schaik with Sophie, Hugo, and Lotte


Professional Interests

  • Culture and parenting and child development
  • Culture and early childhood education
  • Group processes in early childhood education
  • Teaching and learning prosocial behavior in early childhood
  • Conceptualizing quality and development in early childhood education

Both my educational experiences and academic career show a mix of developmental psychology, education, and pedagogy. I have been trained as a secondary school teacher and enjoyed several years of teaching in inner-city schools before starting my academic career in pedagogy. While using a mixed-methods approach my research focuses on how a culture-and-human-development approach can help science and practice reconceptualize parenting, teaching, and development. For example, in previous publications I focused on cultural diversity in early childhood education and the different beliefs and practices by teachers from diverse cultural backgrounds (van Schaik, Leseman, & Huijbregts, 2014; van Schaik, Leseman, & De Haan, 2018). My most recent publications (i.e. van Schaik, Mavridis, De Looze, Blom, Super, & Harkness, 2020) illustrate how parents of diverse cultural backgrounds can have different beliefs about parenting and infant development and these different beliefs construct infants’ daily lives.

Current projects

I am wrapping up my Fulbright Visiting Scholarship for which I collaborated with CHHD on a project to study cultural diversity as a resource for reconceptualizing early childhood education.

Besides my early childhood work, I am currently involved in several small projects that each take a culture-and-human-development approach: Comparing mindfulness and empathy based interventions to promote compassion and prosociality among kindergarteners in the Middle East (Brenick, Berger, and van Schaik), Defining empowerment from the eyes of the empowered in Nairobi, Kenya (Alajaji & van Schaik), and the UNION project which is a network of educational scientists and professionals in Utrecht, the Netherlands striving against polarization and for inclusiveness in education.

Recent CHHD-related publications

  • van Schaik, S. D. M., Mavridis, C., de Looze, M.E., Blom, M.J.M., Super, C.M., & Harkness, S. (2020). Getting the baby on a schedule: Dutch and American mothers’ ethnotheories and the establishment of diurnal rhythms in early infancy. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development.
  • Harkness, S., Super, C.M., Bonichini, S., Bermudez, M.R., Mavridis, C., van Schaik, S. D. M., Tomkunas, A., & Palacios, J. (2020). Parents, preschools, and the developmental niches of young children: A study in four Western cultures. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development.