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List of Free Online Child Development Courses & Learning Materials

See our list of the top free child development courses and learning materials. Learn about what courses are available, what topics they cover and whether you can use them to get college credit.

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Online Child Development Courses for Credit

Free online courses in child development are designed to give students an overview of developmental theories as well as factors contributing to human growth. Materials typically allow students to work at their own pace, though academic credit is not awarded upon completion. Students who would like an online course they can apply to a degree program might want to consider other options.

Study.com offers one such alternative to traditional college courses. The Psychology 107: Life Span Developmental Psychology class is taught by knowledgeable instructors and can lead to academic credit in less time and expense than your typical online or on-campus course. Materials include free lesson transcripts. Registered members can also watch short, engaging video lessons and take corresponding multiple-choice quizzes for a small fee. This course includes chapters on the following topics:

Find schools that offer these popular programs

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Free Online Non-Credited Child Development Courses

Johns Hopkins University

  • Child Health and Development focuses on social, cognitive and emotional development in children. The course looks at assessment tools, as well as the role of intervention programs in proper child development. Lecture materials cover areas such the framework of language in early development, physical growth and neurodevelopment during the first ten years, and the emergence of self-regulation in children.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Introduction to Psychology explores the link between how the mind works and human nature. A number of lectures videos are available, including one on child development. Included in this video are discussions about how babies learn, the stages of development known as sensorimotor and preoperational, and mind theory. Other videos in the course cover brain structure, consciousness, memory, language, personality, and other topics. Examinations, with the answers and explanations provided, are included among the other available course material.
  • Infant and Early Childhood Cognition focuses on how very young children learn and gain an understanding of their immediate world. Students will be able to download learning materials, including lecture notes, that highlight aspects of child development, such as imagination, object individuation, and baby talk. Studies can be reinforced by course readings and assignments.

The Open University

  • Early Development focuses on the early stages of a single life cycle. Students learn about human conception as it was perceived historically, and study conception and development on a cellular level. The course also includes discussions on contraception, fertilization, pregnancy, and how the sex of a child may be determined.
  • Understanding Early Years Environments and Children's Spaces is mined from a course on professional practice in early childhood. Instruction covers the role of space and environment in the development of children. For instance, the class explores indoor and outdoor environments as ways of enhancing childhood creativity and behavior. Also discussed are ways to create a safe environment for open play. References to books on the subject are also included.

Tufts University

  • Promoting Positive Development Among Youth discusses how the use of civic engagement among youth can enhance child development. Besides lecture materials, student presentations developed as part of previous campus-based instruction are available.
  • Human Growth and Development offers a more extensive exploration of what affects the development process, in particular how diseases and disabilities affect it Specific lectures focus on the affects of teen pregnancy, abuse, youth violence, domestic violemce and divorce. This course is designed for doctors to help them develop ways to better know their patients. By the end of the course, students will have a grasp of the human development process from early childhood through to the dying process.
  • Intellectual Development covers the various theories that explain cognitive development from early childhood through adolescence. Students will have the chance to contrast various theories and research on cognitive growth.

University of Michigan

  • Human Growth and Development helps students learn about child development as it relates to infancy through adolescence. Various handouts cover theories and concepts about development. Lectures look at normal growth and development, development in the fetal and neonatal stages, school age development, and other areas of interest.

Utah State University

  • Power of Positive Parenting is based on the successful writings and presentations of author Glenn Latham. Parents are introduced to elements that encourage healthy development in children. Course material covers ways to address negative behaviors, such as anger, as well as how to improve self esteem and change family dynamics. Parents can download lessons and handouts that can be shared with children.
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