What Should I Expect from Child Psychology Courses?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 December 2019
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What people can expect from child psychology courses very much depends on level of study and types of classes taken. In training to become a childcare worker, people might take an introductory class that gives an overview of the topic. Those who want to go on to more in depth studies will explore child psychology with much greater focus, and take a number of child psychology courses that could cover a specific aspect of child development.

Classes that are at the beginning of the spectrum are usually introductions to the topic of child psychology and they tend to help students gain a general understanding of child development, from birth to adolescence or greater. Alternately, some child psychology courses are called early child development and focus on how children grow and change from infancy to the ages of five to nine. People can expect these classes to have theories about why and how kids grow and attain language skills, reasoning, moral sense, and increasing cognitive abilities. To help with this teaching, students usually have at least one textbook, receive lectures in classes, and are likely to have several tests on material they learn.


In upper levels of study, child psychology courses become less about overview of the whole topic and are more focused on single aspects of child development. For instance, students might spend a semester studying in different classes on topics like how children develop language, the developmental aspects of the adolescent, and/or disabilities, learning or otherwise, that can arrest development. Again, many of these classes use texts and lectures as principal means of teaching, and students may take tests, participate in class, and/or write research papers as part of their grade.

Lower division child psychology courses usually don’t spend much time analyzing the issue of the different theories of how children develop. Theory might be addressed in upper division undergraduate classes. Alternately, it could a subject covered in masters or doctoral work.

There isn’t one single theory that governs all knowledge on child development and psychology, and in graduate work, it’s expected students will increasingly evaluate the different operating theories and learn to compare them. That being said, many schools still lean heavily on the developmental theories espoused by Jean Piaget. As people become more sophisticated in their understanding, they may want to evaluate graduate schools based on adherence to one or more theorists.

At upper division or graduate levels, students may also take child psychology courses that emphasize or demand a certain amount of research. These may be as part of theses or simply a requirement to graduate. What subjects a student must take really depend on individual school or hiring requirements of things like daycares or nursery schools. Students usually have some leeway to pick classes that are of most interest, particularly as they progress with their education.



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