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Human Growth and Development 1a: Introduction

From babies in the womb to toddlers to adolescents, human growth and development is fascinating. In this course, you’ll take a deep dive into the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth across a child’s lifespan. You’ll learn about key milestones, apply theoretical frameworks that us give insight into ourselves, health and safety for ages and stages, strategies to optimize growth and development, and more! If you’re considering a career in education, the social sciences, or medicine, this class will set you up for success. Let’s grow your understanding of human development today by shining a light on why we do what we do!

Review Course Outline

Units at a Glance

Unit 1: Foundations of Human Development

Who am I? This is a question that occurs to most people throughout their lives. We are all the result of our experiences and influences, whether hereditary, environmental, or chosen. When studying human development, we seek to understand why people are the way they are and how behaviors can be corrected. More importantly, we try to apply what we learn so that can people be more resilient, fulfilled, and productive members of society. Let’s explore the history of human development research and apply those theories to scenarios today.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Explain the benefits of learning about human development
  • Describe the four areas of human development and give examples of early childhood milestones for each area
  • Identify the early human development theorists, comparing the strengths and weaknesses of each of their theories
  • Explain how theories of behavioral and psychological interventions might be used to improve a person’s choices, perspectives, and well-being
  • Identify more recent human development theorists and analyze the impacts of these developmental theories

Unit 2: Nature or Nurture?

Have you ever wondered what specifically has made you the person you are? Are you a product of your environment, or is your destiny determined by genetics? Here we will examine the possibility that it’s both nature and nurture. We will also explore the study of epigenetics, or how experiences and choices can change or influence how our genetic traits display themselves. Learn more about yourself, your family, and maybe who or what is responsible for your quirky habits, personal preferences, and even your strengths and weaknesses. Learn too about the possibility for change!

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Identify the differences between nature and nurture
  • Describe how a person’s DNA or “nature“ influences their development
  • Discuss how a person’s experiences and environment or “nurture” influences their development
  • Explain how epigenetics and brain plasticity impact a person’s ability to learn

Unit 3: Prenatal Development and Birth

It’s time to consider human development from the very beginning, starting with conception and ending with birth. We’ll look at the genetic and environmental factors that impact prenatal development, birth defects, and developmental disorders that may occur during this time. Since the health of a developing fetus and infant is closely tied to the health of the biological mother, we’ll also explore how the mother’s health, lifestyle, and health care can affect the health and well-being of the baby both before and after birth.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Explain the process of human fertilization and conception
  • Differentiate between the three trimesters of pregnancy, including key changes and milestones
  • Detail the stages of labor and delivery, including the risks and benefits of different methods of delivery
  • Discuss the roles of healthcare providers and health promotion during prenatal development, delivery, and postpartum care

Unit 4: Infant Development

A baby has arrived! What can we expect? Here we’ll explore the milestones infants meet in their first year of life, as well as what it could mean if they’ve missed one or are delayed. We’ll examine some of today’s most pressing issues for parents, communities, and society when it comes to helping young children thrive, including the support of their nutrition, emotional wellbeing, and the availability and quality of their childcare environment. This is a time of rapid growth—buckle up and step into the wild ride that is infancy!

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Identify typical developmental milestones in a child’s first year
  • Describe common health diagnoses during infancy as well as health promotion and prevention opportunities
  • Explain safety concerns during infancy and ways to reduce risk
  • Analyze important choices that parents must make during the first year of their infant’s life

Unit 5: The High-Energy Toddler

Like most things in life, our most difficult challenges often bring the most fulfilling rewards. Toddlers do just that: challenge and reward. During this time of development children will assert their independence, give you a sneak peek into their unique personalities, and in the process of learning and growing are often a hilarious and endearing form of entertainment. Although physical development may seem to slow a bit after the rapid changes of infancy, the toddler years are just as active in development. The focus shifts from physical changes to social and intellectual growth, and the toddler is eager to learn new things.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Identify typical physical and developmental milestones during the toddler years
  • Describe social, cognitive, and emotional milestones during the toddler years
  • Explain the impact on development of play and reading during the toddler years
  • Discuss common safety risks, select health diagnoses, and health promotion opportunities that occur in toddlerhood

Unit 6: The Preschool Years

The preschool years, generally ages three to five, are all about learning, observing, and making sense of the world through the innocent and fresh perspective a young child possesses. You will see a significant increase in a child’s desire for independence, which can be both exciting and frustrating. As children observe and emulate the social and emotional skills of role models and peers, their self-regulation and coping mechanisms grow as well.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Identify typical physical developmental milestones in the preschooler
  • Describe typical intellectual, social, and emotional developmental milestones in the preschooler
  • Explain the importance and long-term impacts on the development of early childhood education
  • Discuss common safety risks and select health diagnoses and health promotion opportunities that occur in the preschool years

Unit 7: School Days

Children begin to develop their own unique personalities, strengths, and interests during their school-age years. With new opportunities, friends, and experiences, traits will emerge in these children that could not have been imagined just a few years before. It is essential to balance encouraging children to explore while offering boundaries, structure, and predictable consequences that allow them to thrive. Let’s look at ways that caregivers of all kinds can support children during this time of rapid self-discovery and growth.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Identify typical physical developmental milestones in the school-age child
  • Describe typical cognitive, social, and emotional developmental milestones in the school-age child
  • Explain the importance and long-term impacts on development when children have early access to quality education and support for any identified learning disorders
  • Discuss common safety risks and health promotion opportunities that occur in school-age children

Unit 8: The Teen Years

It may seem strange to study a period of development you’re most likely in, but everything we’re about to cover you can use today! In addition to physical, cognitive, social, and emotional milestones, we’ll also discuss the impact of a child’s choices. Up to this point, most of a child’s environmental influences have been out of their control, but now, more and more “nurture” influences are of their own making, for better or worse. So let’s dig in! You have an exciting opportunity ahead to learn, reflect, and immediately apply new knowledge to your life.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Identify typical physical and cognitive developmental milestones in adolescence and the teenage years
  • Describe typical social and emotional developmental milestones in adolescence and the teenage years
  • Strategize ways to avoid unhealthy or dangerous outcomes to common choices and situations adolescents and teens encounter
  • Analyze strategies and supports adolescents and teens can apply to promote healthy personal growth

Required Materials

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