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Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate

Study Child Development with this Online Course. Enrol at a time to suit you and work through the course supported by our excellent Child Development tutors.

Childhood is a time of rapid growth and change, psychologically and physically. This course will take you through the changes that occur during this process.

Learn about the psychological and physical development of a child, and services that cater to child care and development; at the same time as developing contacts within the children's services sector and exploring opportunities to work in that industry..

This certificate is focused for people wanting to or already are working with children as well as anyone wanting to develop skills for a career in childcare. This certificate is comprised of the following courses - Play Leadership, Introduction to Psychology, Child Psychology,  Children's Writing, Human Nutrition, Park and Playground Design I.

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This Child Development Course is an excellent way to improve your knowledge of children as a way to improve your job prospects and your own childcare knowledge. Study by distance learning in the comfort of your own home, supported by our excellent tutors.

Want to work with Children? Want to understand children more?  Then this is the course for you! The certificate will enable you to increase your knowledge of children and adolescents.

  • A unique course for anyone wanting to learn more about children and how they develop.
  • Gain a qualification in child development to improve your job and promotion prospects.
  • Flexible distance learning studying enables you to study in your own home whilst still working.
  • The course lasts 600 hours. You work at your own pace. You are required to complete six modules.
  • You study - Play Leadership, Children's Nutrition, Child Psychology and three other modules chosen from: Developmental Psychology, Playground Design, Children's Writing, Developmental Learning and Behavioural Conditions in Adolescents and Children, or Child and Adolescent Mental Health.



Child Psychology BPS104

There are 12 lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction to Child Psychology
    • Levels of development
    • Nature or nurture
    • Isolating hereditary characteristics
    • Cause versus correlation
    • Continuity versus discontinuity
    • Cross sectional and longitudinal studies
    • Reliability of verbal reports
  2. The Newborn Infant
    • The Interactionist Approach
    • Range of Reaction
    • Niche Picking
    • Temperament
    • Stimulus seeking
    • Emotional disturbances during pregnancy
  3. States & Senses of the Infant
    • Sensory Discrimination
    • Infant States (sleep, Inactivity, Waking, Crying etc)
    • Why are Psychologists so concerned with defining and describing these infant states?
    • Habituation
    • Crying, Soothing a Distressed Baby
    • Sound Discrimination
    • Smell and Taste Discrimination
    • Visual Discrimination
    • Depth Perception
    • Oral Sensitivity
  4. Learning
    • Habituation
    • Vicarious Learning
    • Classical Conditioning
    • Operant Conditioning
    • Reinforcement
    • The Importance of Learning Control, etc
  5. Emotions and Socialisation
    • Producing and Recognising Emotional Expression
    • Smiling
    • Biological Explanation
    • Perceptual Recognition Explanation
    • The Mother-Child Attachment
    • Freudian Approach
    • Bowlby's Approach
    • Social Learning Approach
    • Harlow's Approach
    • The Role of Cognition in Attachment Formation
    • Maternal Attachment
    • Fear
    • Social Learning
    • Perceptual Recognition
    • Woman's Duel Role as Mothers and Workers
    • Is Day Care a Developmental Hazard to Children
  6. Cognitive Development
    • Developing the ability to reason.
  7. Language Development
    • Is language learned, or are we genetically programmed with it
    • The Social Learning Approach
    • The Hypothesis testing Approach
    • Under extending
  8. Intelligence
    • Measuring Intelligence
    • Cultural Bias
    • IQ
    • Testing Intelligence as a tool.
  9. Socialisation - Part A
    • Social Cognition
      • Self awareness
      • Awareness of others as individuals in their own Right
      • The development of empathy
      • Taking turns
      • Having a point of view/perspective
      • Ability to see something from another person's perspective.
    • Friendships
    • Social Scripts
    • Scripts that Pretend Play
  10. Morality
    • Moral development
    • Aggression & Altruism
    • Freud's Approach
    • Piaget's Approach
    • Kohlberg's Approach
  11. Sexuality
    • Freud's phases (oral phase, anal phase, phallic phase, latent phase, genital phase)
    • The Acquisition of Gender & Role Identity
    • Concept of psycho-social development
  12. Socialisation - Part B
    • The Family Influence
    • Discipline
    • Siblings
    • Family Structures
    • School Influence
    • Peer Influence
    • Acceptance & Rejection
    • Imitation & Reinforcement.

Children's Nutrition BRE304

There are 10 lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Introduction to Child Nutrition
  2. Nutrition for Pre-Pregnancy
  3. Nutrition in Pregnancy
  4. Nutrition in Infants
  5. Nutrition in Childhood
  6. Nutritional Concerns
  7. Healthy Eating Behaviours
  8. Issues in Child Nutrition
  9. Childhood Obesity
  10. Diet Plans


  • Discuss the nature and scope of developing nutrition for children according to their backgrounds and needs.
  • Explain the various nutritional needs of the mother and father before pregnancy .
  • Explain the various nutritional needs of the mother and child during pregnancy.
  • Explain various nutritional needs of infants from birth to age two.
  • Explain various nutritional aspects of growing children addressing various issues and concerns.
  • Identify concerns in the diets of children and adolescents and overcoming them.
  • Lists ways to encourage healthy eating behaviour in children.
  • Explain some of the common issues such as food sensitivities in childhood nutrition.
  • Explain causes and guidelines to overcoming childhood obesity.
  • Develop a list diet outlines for healthy children and special diet plans for children with special nutritional needs.

Play Leadership

There are ten lessons in this course, plus one special project, as follows:

  1. Understanding Play
    To explain the purpose of play in the cognitive, physical and social development of a child.
  2. Leadership Skills
    To determine the skills required to carry out a play leadership role in different situations.
  3. Planning Play Programs
    To develop a plan for a supervised children's play program.
  4. Child Development through Play
    To develop a basic understanding of the impact of play upon the psychological development of a child.
  5. Play Safety
    To determine appropriate measures to take to protect a child's safety when at play, while minimising any interference which might diminish the quality of the play experience.
  6. Physical Play
    To develop an understanding of options for physical play activities, including games and sports, in a supervised play program.
  7. Social Play
    To develop an understanding of options for social play activities, in a supervised play program.
  8. Adventure Play
    To develop a basic ability to plan, establish and manage a supervised adventure playground.
  9. Play Apparatus
    To develop an ability to evaluate a range of different play apparatus, including playground structures, toys, sports equipment, commenting on quality, safety features, appropriate applications and cost benefit.
  10. Activities
    To broaden your scope of opportunities that can be offered for children to play, appropriate to a wide range of different situations.
  11. Special Project


Playground Design

There are 8 lessons as follows:

  1. Overview of Parks & Playgrounds
  2. Playground Philosophy
  3. Preparing a Concept Plan
  4. Materials
  5. Park & Playground Structures and Materials
  6. Local and Neighbourhood Parks
  7. Community Participation In Park Development
  8. Special Assignment

Children’s Writing BWR104

There are ten lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction: Understanding Children, their thoughts, needs, development.
  2. Overview of Children's Writing: Categories (fiction & non fiction), understanding the market place; analyse & what is needed for the different categories, etc.
  3. Conceptualisation: Conceiving a concept…where & how to find inspiration/influence. Developing a concept … how to plan.
  4. Children's Writing for Periodicals: Children's pages in magazines, newspapers, etc.
  5. Short Stories
  6. Non-Fiction: Texts (writing to satisfy curriculum. Other (eg. nature, history, biography, hobbies).
  7. Fiction: settings, characterisation, fantasy, science fiction, adventure.
  8. Picture Books and Story Books
  9. Editing your work: Grammar, spelling & punctuation. Improving clarity. Cleaning out clutter; expansions.
  10. Project - write a short story, picture book or kid,s page for a (hypothetical) periodical.

Developmental Psychology

Ten lessons

  1.     Introduction
  2.     Early childhood
  3.     Middle childhood
  4.     Challenges of middle childhood
  5.     Adolescence
  6.     Challenges of adolescence
  7.     Adulthood
  8.     Challenges of adulthood
  9.     Late adulthood
  10.     Challenges of late adulthood

Developmental Learning and Behavioural Conditions in Adolescents and Children

  1. Developmental Disorders - Mental Retardation and Learning Disabilities
  2. Autism - Autistic Disorder signs, symptoms, treatment and support
  3. Asperger's Disorder - signs, symptoms, treatment and support
  4. Attention-Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders
  5. Conduct Disorders (Include oppositional defiant disorder) signs, symptoms,  treatment and support
  6. Learning Disorders - focus on academia (Mathematics, Reading Disorder - Dyslexia, etc.) signs, symptoms, treatment and support
  7. Communications Disorders & Motor Skills Disorder - focus on speech and language signs, symptoms, treatment and support
  8. Special Project (choose something of interest to the student) signs, symptoms, treatment and support

Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Ten lessons:

  1. Nature and Scope of Mental Health  
  2. Childhood Depression
  3. Anxiety Disorders
  4. Tic Disorders
  5. Brain Disorders (Injury and Disease)
  6. Other Disorders
  7. The Impact of Environmental Problems on Child and Adolescent Mental Health
  8. Problems of Adolescence
  9. Holistic and Alternative Approaches to Treatment s
  10. Special Project



Some children do genuinely have developmental disorders that require some action; but for most children, irregular development is some areas of their life should not be considered abnormal. Every child is different to the rest; with their own strengths and weaknesses. Differences are to be embraced.

There are a number of specific developmental disorders though which are relatively common They should not be confused with mental retardation which is often referred to as learning disability. Specific learning disorders usually involve developmental delays which are not a result of a lack of education or attributable to other mental health disorders.

There is some controversy associated with classifying these specific disorders as mental health disorders since there is often no other psychopathology associated with them. The individual may have a problem with a particular area, e.g. reading, but is otherwise normal. Often, individuals have more than one learning deficit but no other psychopathology.

Specific developmental disorders include the DSM categories of learning disorders, motor skills disorder, and communications disorders (the latter two will be covered in the next lesson). In the ICD these are called disorders of scholastic skills, motor function, and speech and language, respectively.


Learning disorders involving academic skills are split into disorders of reading, written expression, and mathematics in the DSM, or specific disorders of reading, spelling, and arithmetic in the ICD. They relate to specific areas of academic achievement.

Specific learning disorders are assessed using standardised tests and disorders are determined where scores are significantly lower than would be expected for a child of the individual's age, education, and intelligence level. A score which is significantly lower is usually defined as achievement being significantly lower than intelligence.

The learning difficulties must interfere significantly with the child's school achievement or daily living in tasks which involve the use of these skills. Learning disorders may continue on into adulthood.

Reading disorder is sometimes called developmental dyslexia. The terms dyslexia is often used to refer to reading disorders, but classical dyslexia is a type of reading disorder.  A reading disorder is characterised by a reading age substantially below the child's chronological age, education, and IQ level. It causes the child significant difficulties in school or social life where reading is required, and if the child has a sensory deficit then the reading difficulties exceed those normally associated with such a deficit.  Other than dyslexia, reading disorders can occur when the child has difficulties with comprehension and fluency.

A reading disorder must be distinguished from low intelligence, inadequate education, lack of opportunity to read, and problems with visual acuity.   

Signs and Symptoms
Reading disorder is marked by a history of delay in learning to read which begins in the early stages of school life. Sometimes, the individual may have also had problems with language and speech prior to reading difficulties.     

Oral reading reveals omissions, distortions and substitutions. Both oral and silent reading may show slowness, long hesitations and lack of understanding. Reversals of words and letters may also occur.

The child may also –

  • Have difficulties with word recognition
  • Read slowly
  • Confuse words that look similar
  • Have difficulties understanding what they read.

Reading disorder may lead to emotional problems in the child. There is a higher than average incidence of children with conduct disorders who also have a reading disorder. Failures in reading may lead to conduct problems and vice versa.


Diagnosis of reading difficulties as early as possible is essential for children. But many children are not diagnosed as having a problem until they are around 9 years of age. This is because earlier reading difficulties can be seen as part of the “normal” development of reading skills.  Reading disorders do not just relate to reading a word, they also relate to understanding and comprehending what they are reading.  Researchers have theorised many different causes for reading disorders including –

  • Physiological factors – such as neurological difficulties and sensory impairments.
  • Hereditary factors – Genetics has been linked to work recognition and phonological processing.
  • Environmental factors – such as the intellectual atmosphere of the house in which they live.
  • Emotional factors – It is rare for emotional factors to impact on reading, but it does occur for a small percentage of children with reading disorders.
  • Sociocultural factors – such as ethnicity, racial identification, culturally determined gender roles, socioeconomic status can play a role in the acquisition of reading skills, determining future reading success.
  • Cognitive factors – reading delays relating to left and right brain hemisphere function, memory, preferred reading modality.
  • Educational factors – lack of time to read, inappropriate material, inappropriate techniques (such as wasting learning time), lack of information
  • Language factors – problems with syntax (sentence structure) and semantics (meaning). Difficulty learning how to cope with problems in their reading, such as how to sound out and identify words.
  • Reading history – how successful they were in reading in the past, whether their success was reinforced, their performance criticised and so on.

Let’s look in a bit more detail at dyslexia specifically. The symptoms of dyslexia do not only relate to reading or writing.  Some symptoms include –

  • Poor short term memory
  • Problems concentrating
  • Short attention spam
  • Problems with number skills, such as carrying out mental arithmetic
  • Problems with time management and organisation
  • Difficulties with physical coordination. Some children may appear unusually clumsy, younger children may have problems carrying out tasks that require physical coordination, such as tying their shoe laces.

In preschool children, symptoms may include –

  • Delay in speech compared to other children the same age
  • Problems using the spoken language, such as being unable to remember the right word to use
  • Difficulties with/little interested in learning the letters of the alphabet.
  • Speech problems, including not pronouncing long words properly or jumbling phrases e.g. Beddy tear instead of teddy bear.

In early school age children (5 – 7 years of age) the child may have

  • Problems copying written language
  • Poor phonological awareness – the inability to recognise that words are made up of smaller sound and manipulating the sounds (phonemes) can create new words and meanings.
  • Inconsistent and unpredictable spelling
    Problems learning the sounds and names of letters.

From 7 – 12 years, the child may have a slower reading speed and find it hard to correctly spell words.  They may also have problems understanding and recognising new words.  This can cause problems in school subjects where there are many new technical terms, such as science.

In teenagers and adults, the individual will have a slow writing speed and their written work will lack expression. They may understand a topic very well, but have difficulties expressing themselves in writing. They may have problems reading with fluency.


It is not easy to gain an accurate insight into the prevalence of reading disorder since many studies have treated learning disorders as a whole rather than separate them into reading, writing, and arithmetic. Estimates vary, but a figure of around 4% seems likely.

Specifically relating to dyslexia, around 10% of people will have dyslexia. It is also more common in boys.

Support Available

Educators will often have knowledge about how to support children with reading disorders. If they do not, then often there will be specialist teachers available to help the child with their reading disorder.  Once a diagnosis is made, such as dyslexia, then there are set ways to help the child to develop their writing and reading skills.


Improve your knowledge of child development and psychology with this 600 hour course.

This course is a useful certificate providing you with detailed knowledge of children and how they develop. 

Start at a time to suit you and work through the course supported by our excellent tutors.



Any Questions?

Our Child Development tutors are more than happy to help with any questions about this course and other child development courses.

Click to Contact a Child Development Tutor.



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Meet some of our academics

Tracey Jones (psychology)B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), DipSW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies) Tracey began studying psychology in 1990. She has a wide range of experience within the psychology and social work field, particularly working with people with learning disabilities. She is also qualified as a teacher and now teaches psychology and social work related subjects. She has been a book reviewer for the British Journal of Social Work and has also written many textbooks, blogs, articles and ebooks on psychology, writing, sociology, child development and more. She has had also several short stories published.

Check out our eBooks

Getting Work in a Modern WorldGetting Work in a Modern World is a must read; for students, parents, the unemployed, careers advisors or anyone interested in changing or forging a sustainable career. This is realistic guide to getting a job or starting out in business and understanding different industries. Topics covered in this book include 1/Career Myths, 2/ Finding Your Path, 3/ Understanding Employers, 4/ Preparing for a Job, 5/ Jobs to Consider: Looking to the Future, 6/ Information Technology, 7/ Business, Management and Sales, 8/ Health and Wellbeing, 9/ Horticulture, 10/ Wildlife and Environmental, 11/ Animal Care, 12/ Agriculture, 13/ Hospitality and Tourism, 14/ Media and 15/ Education.
Counselling HandbookA book for both students, as well as volunteers who may be involved in helping people with problems. This is a starting point for understanding counselling, and a reference for developing counselling skills. The book contains seven chapters: 1. Where can counselling be used 2. How to see behind the mask 3. Emotions and attitudes 4. How to communicate better when all you have is words 5. Theory versus practice 6. Diffusing difficult situations 7. Golden rules or tips
How Children ThinkAnyone who has ever tried to make a child do anything (clean up their mess, desist from throwing mud, stop drawing on the walls) knows that children think differently to adults. This book attempts to provide the skills and knowledge to develop a greater understanding of children.
The Environment of PlayFull of inspiring colour images of playgrounds around the world, this book is ideal for designers, park managers, schools and parents! First published in the USA in 1982. Used in the past as a university text (in landscaping and education degrees). Completely revised in 2012. Full of inspiring colour images of playgrounds around the world, this book is ideal for designers, park managers, schools and parents! Play is the most important and effective method of learning for adults as well as children. It can be active or passive, planned or spontaneous. If you want to learn about the relationship between PLAY and the ENVIRONMENT, this is the ebook for you.