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Top 7 Early Childhood Development Courses You Can Study Online - Open Education Online

Top 7 Early Childhood Development Courses You Can Study Online

Early childhood (which covers the span between a child’s birth to when they turn 8 years old) is a vital time in a person’s life. The brain is building the foundations for language, behavior, social connections, learning, mental health, and much more. Things like abuse, stress, and conditions like ADHD can disrupt normal development, but with the proper support and interventions, children grow into healthy, happy adults. What do parents, educators, psychologists, health professionals, and others need to know? This article covers 7 of the top early childhood courses available for online study.

#1. Understanding Child Development: From Synapse to Society (Utrecht University)
#2. Everyday Parenting: The ABCs of Child Rearing (Yale University)
#3. The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development (SDGAcademyX)
#4. Early Childhood Development: Global Strategies for Implementation (HarvardX)
#5. Childhood Adversity: The Impact of Childhood Maltreatment on Mental Health (University College London)
#6. ADHD: Everyday Strategies for Elementary Students (University at Buffalo/The State University of New York)
#7. Introduction to Early Childhood (The State University of New York)

Note: Course availability is subject to change. Some courses may archive their materials, so you can still access information like articles and videos.

#1. Understanding Child Development: From Synapse to Society (Utrecht University)

Course description – This beginner course covers a range of topics within child development. You’ll learn about brain and motor development, cognitive development, and communication from experts like neuroscientists and child psychologists. You’ll also learn about development systems approach and different theories, which gives you a fuller understanding of the various angles and disciplines within the early childhood development field.

What you’ll learn (excerpt)

  • Understand the early developing brain and how children develop motor skills
  • Learn how cognitive development affects a child’s thinking and behavior
  • Identify the links between motor skills, cognitive development, and language development
  • Explore how children develop emotions and social sensibilities
  • Examine the impact of culture on early childhood development

How you’ll learn

This course is divided into 6 weeks, so it takes about 28 hours to complete. Course materials include readings, videos, interviews, and practice exercises. You can pay a fee for a certificate, but if you take the free audit option, you still get access to all the materials. Subtitles are available in several languages, including Arabic, French, Vietnamese, German, English, and Spanish. Associate Professor of Clinical Child and Family Studies Dr. Jorg Huiding teaches the course.

#2. Everyday Parenting: The ABCs of Child Rearing (Yale University)

Course description – Parenting is one of the biggest challenges a person may face. This course presents an “ABC” formula (Antecedents, Behavior, and Consequence) for behavior-change programs. Through step-by-step behavior-change techniques, including changing your voice tone and phrasing, you can communicate better with children. You’ll also explore common parenting misconceptions and what strategies are likely to be ineffective.

What you’ll learn (excerpt)

  • Learn how to praise your child and why it’s such a valuable technique
  • Understand how to react to behavior with techniques like praise, rewards, attention, or punishment
  • Explore advanced ABCs and how to adapt when your child starts getting older
  • Recognize signs that may indicate your child needs professional help

How you’ll learn

This beginner course is spread over 4 weeks and takes about 21 hours to complete. Course materials include videos, readings, and practice exercises. The free audit track gives you full access to the materials, though you will need to pay a fee if you want a verified certificate of completion. Subtitles are available in Spanish and Chinese. Sterling Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D., ABPP teaches the course.

#3. The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development (SDGAcademyX)

Course description – With the guidance of experts from places like UNICEF and Harvard University, you’ll learn how neuroscience, sociology, anthropology, and other disciplines influence the understanding of early childhood development. You’ll explore topics like brain development, nutrition, social development, language, and much more. The course is designed for graduate students, teachers, healthcare professionals, sustainable development practitioners, and anyone else interested in early childhood.

What you’ll learn (excerpt)

  • Understand how the brain affects a child’s development
  • Explore the physical, language, and social development between prenatal to age 3
  • Study the physical, language, and socio-emotional development of kids ages 3-8
  • Learn about early childhood development programs and sectors like health programs, child protection programs, and more
  • Discuss policy and future innovations in early childhood development

How you’ll learn

This course can be completed in 8 weeks with 2-4 hours of study per week. It’s an intermediate course, but no prerequisites are required. Course materials include video lectures, readings, quizzes, and discussions after each module. There is a final exam, but only paying students access it. Instructors include Hirokazu Yoshikawa, a professor at New York University Global, and Jack Shonkoff, who is the director at the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child.

#4. Early Childhood Development: Global Strategies for Implementation (HarvardX)

Course description – In this course, you’ll review early childhood development concepts and the successful implementation programs found around the world. You’ll explore why some programs work while others aren’t as successful. With information from places like UNICEF and Harvard, you’ll get a global overview of early childhood development best practices, policies, advocacy, financing, and more.

What you’ll learn (excerpt)

  • Understand science’s effect on interventions for early childhood development
  • Explore what makes a program successful and what makes a program fail
  • Identify ways to make your program more effective and how quality programming can scale up
  • Learn how to measure progress with interventions and policies

How you’ll learn

This course is for beginners, so there are no prerequisites. It takes about 7 weeks to complete with 1-3 hours of study. Materials include readings, videos, and activities like logic models and self-reflections. When you take the free audit option, you get limited access to materials, like graded items. Associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Aisha Yousafzai teaches the course.

#5. Childhood Adversity: The Impact of Childhood Maltreatment on Mental Health (University College London)

Course description – With the guidance of world leaders in child development and educators in neuroscience and psychology, you’ll learn how childhood adversity impacts a person’s mental health. Around half of all mental health conditions manifest before age 14, so the topic is important for anyone interested in mental well-being, child development, and the impact of childhood abuse.

What you’ll learn (excerpt)

  • Explore evidence-based research on how childhood trauma can impact a person’s psychology, learning outcomes, and social life
  • Understand how childhood maltreatment can alter neurobiology and affect behavior
  • Look at childhood adversity from the perspectives of a clinician, neuroscience, and educator
  • Identify ways to support young people who’ve suffered abuse

How you’ll learn

You don’t need a background in child development or psychology to benefit from the course. It takes 3 weeks with 3 hours of study per week. Course materials include articles, videos, discussions, and quizzes. When you take the free audit option, you get time-limited access to course materials. Instructors include Dr. Vanessa Puetz, who is an Associate Professor in Development Neuroscience and Psychopathy at UCL and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

#6. ADHD: Everyday Strategies for Elementary Students (University at Buffalo/The State University of New York)

Course description – This course introduces you to ADHD diagnosis and treatment, including the condition’s history, new findings and treatments, and evidence-based approaches for diagnosis. By the course’s end, you’ll be equipped to identify ADHD, the parts of a diagnosis, and treatments that can be used at home or in school.

What you’ll learn (excerpt)

  • Explore the history of ADHD, its prevalence, and its causes
  • Learn about the Daily Report and Parenting Strategies treatment approaches, which are evidence-based
  • Identify the main parts of symptoms, functional impairment, and diagnostic decision-making for young people with ADHD
  • Apply effective strategies for supporting youth
  • Write your own “house rules” and behavior contract

How you’ll learn

This beginner-level course is divided into 4 weeks, but it takes just 8 hours to complete. Materials include videos, readings, reflections, and quizzes. You can buy a certificate, but you’ll still get full access if you take the free audit option. Subtitles are available in languages like Arabic, French, Russian, Vietnamese, Spanish, and English. Greg Fabiano, who is a professor in the Department of Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology at the State University of New York at Buffalo, teaches the course.

#7. Introduction to Early Childhood (The State University of New York)

Course description – This course teaches you the fundamentals of early childhood development, including how important play is. Because it’s designed for people who want to run a family daycare center, it also focuses on the importance of family-educator relationships. The course also covers the observation and assessment of children, how to guide behavior, and inclusion and diversity

What you’ll learn (excerpt)

  • Define Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)
  • Understand the importance of teacher/family relations and how to engage families in early childhood programs
  • Learn how to observe, document, and assess children’s development and learning in a classroom setting
  • Identify the best strategies for teaching inclusion in culturally-diverse environments

How you’ll learn

This course is divided into 6 weeks and takes about 10 hours to complete. There are no prerequisites, but you should be interested in pursuing early childhood education programs. Course materials include videos, readings, and one quiz. With the free audit option, you have access to all materials except graded items. English subtitles are available. JoLynn Fiorentino, who is an instructor in Early Childhood Development, leads the course.

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