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S. Tatalović Vorkapić , D. Anđić , R. Čepić , D. Lončarić , M. Verdonik 

University of Rijeka, Faculty of Teacher Education (CROATIA)
Even though the synergy between science and practice present the major prerequisite of quality education of children, very often there is a discrepancy between those two fields. So, the main aim of this paper is to present some recent scientific contributions in the field of education in Croatia, as the attempts of reaching the needed synergy, led by research professors at the University of Rijeka. Scientific research entitled Connectedness to Nature, Organization of Free Time of Young School Children and Digital Technology, aims to determine the extent to which there is a connectedness to nature in children, their parents, and teachers. The aim of this research is also to answer the question of how modern educational processes in schools, the existing organization of free time and adequate application of digital technologies can encourage significant connectedness to nature of young school children as a basis for developing environmental sensitivity and sustainable development. Furthermore, despite the recognition of the importance of professional development there is a frequent occurrence of fragmented, insufficiently connected teachers’ professional development with curricula, as well as an inadequacy in relation to teachers’ needs, conditions, and opportunities. The aim of the second project is empirical research of students’ acquired competencies during their initial teacher education in basic areas of teacher competencies and gaining deeper insight into practitioners’ experiences and reflection on formal, nonformal, and informal learning opportunities and conditions for the realization of professional activities. Moreover, during the project related to teacher beliefs as determinants of self-regulation and creativity of students in the STEM, project members noticed that lack of open-source instruments with freely available normative data is a significant problem hindering cross-sectional collaboration between practitioners and scientists. Therefore, one of the project goals is to deliver to teachers and educational experts in schools online instruments that are easy to use and provide interpretable results with open access normative data under development. Furthermore, in this review paper there are several scientific projects presented that are aimed at the empowering children’ well-being. First one is the scientific project, and it is aimed to empirically validate the Ecological-dynamic model of transition, and the second one is the project aimed to better connect academics and educational practitioners from kindergartens and a primary school named: How to go to kindergarten and primary school tear-free? – Support for the socio-emotional well-being of children during transition and adaptation. The third one is the Erasmus+ KA3 project PROMEHS that is aimed to create and implement Curriculum for Mental Health in kindergartens and schools. Finally, this paper aims to present the project of developing the online courses at the University of Rijeka, specifically the new elective course and the first one of this kind in Croatia entitled "The psychology of child well-being". Additionally, the research includes theoretical approaches to representative Croatian and foreign picture books, as well as the approaches aimed at exploring possible ways of applying the picture book to the work with pre-school and elementary school-aged children.