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Institute of Education

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The Nurture Lab

Investigating the role of family and school in children’s socio-emotional development and mental health whilst considering the interplay of genetics and experience.

The Nurture Lab conducts interdisciplinary research to better understand the role of children’s family and school experiences for development.

Our work uses approaches from family and school psychology, intervention, behavioural genetics, and machine learning. We address questions such as:

  • How do family dynamics influence socio-emotional development?
  • How can schools and families work together to improve children’s mental health and wellbeing?
  • What part do genetics play in children’s experience?
  • How can we advance our methodologies to diversify and expand family research and practice?
  • Why do interventions work for some and not others?
  • How can AI/machine learning approaches help broaden reach of research and intervention?
Lab members

Director

PhD students

  • Pinar Acet
  • Abigail Burgess
Key collaborations
Research projects

Take Two: A study for parents of twins

In summer 2019, parents of twins aged three to eight years were invited to take part in a short-term pilot study. With the help of these families, the aim is to learn how best to support parents through broad-reaching, accessible intervention. This study is on pause, but will be running again as soon as possible. Stay tuned for updates. 

TFaB: The Twins, Families and Behaviour Study 

Originally run as part of the Nurture Lab when it was based in Sussex (2012-2017), TFaB is a longitudinal twin study. The study helps us to explore children’s behaviour and family relationships with the help of around 300 families with twins born in 2009/2010 across the UK. Over a four year period, participating parents kindly completed questionnaires, a telephone interview, and a parent-child interactive game online. We have published some findings already, and still have lots to learn from this data.
 
With the help of TFaB families, we designed a new methodology that provides researchers and practitioners the means to study family relationships in depth. This methodology allows us to ‘visit’ families in their own homes, without the need for real home visits. When we designed the methodology, we had no idea how pertinent it would prove to be for 2020 and beyond. 

Headspace for parents

Led by PhD student, Abigail Burgess, and funded by the ESRC, this project focuses on a popular self-directed health app, Headpace, which supports and bolsters mindfulness and sleep.

For the first time, the project considers Headspace as a support for parents, aiming to improve their ability to cope with stress, and as a consequence improve their children’s wellbeing. We also focus on understanding the specific components of the app that are shown to be useful.

Mindful parenting: parent and child perspectives

Led by PhD student, Pinar Acet and funded by the Ministry of National Education, Republic of Turkey, this project is focused on mindful parenting skills that occur during child-parent interaction.

Pinar aims to identify the determinants of mindful parenting and to understand how children’s perceptions of the mindful parenting skills of their parents associates with their well-being.

Publications

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2015

Blog posts