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The cognizance of children is one of the most studied areas of psychology. The history of children shows that they did not play a prominent part in society until the last few hundred years. This course focuses on the mind and behaviour of children from pre-natal to adolescence (the period around puberty teenage years). Child psychology deals with the study of how children grow physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. Historically, children were often thought of as simply being smaller versions of adults, and so they experienced everything that adults did but on a basic level. When Jean Piaget (1896-1980) suggested that children actually think differently than adults, today through such theories children are thought of as unique and complex, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) proclaimed that the discovery was "so simple that only a genius could have thought of it." Thus, the place of children in society and family structure has now become valued and is nurtured (on the whole).
Module 1: The History of Childhood in Britain
The first module explores the history of childhood in Britain from a social and historical perspective. How has the way childhood is seen and defined, and how has the role of the child changed and been shaped by historical events such as the industrial revolution? It is known that the experience of a child depends on where they come from, the wealth and status of their family. The beginning and end of childhood has changed in terms of social perspectives and family expectations. A timeline is created to show what has influenced the key development of role of a child. Tools to evaluate the emergence of child psychology are given. The experience of childhood is looked at on a personal basis and compared to different case studies. Today a set of law exists to protect the rights of a child, but even then the experience of childhood is wide and varied so this is explored.
Module 2: Child Psychology Explained
Today children have unique opportunities, expectations and social perspective. Within this module the aims and objectives of child psychology are examined in this context. Methods of research to specifically help this discussion, together with ethical considerations and specific methodologies and approaches tailored to children are discussed. Questions will be asked why when we have a broad range of general psychology techniques, separate methods are needed to work with children. The answers focus around the needs of the child, how they are reared and what common practices, legislation and influences shape this process? What do parents and guardians bring to influence this process, and what are the long term effects of this? Modern child psychology will be grounded in a historic perspective of the development of the field of psychology.
Module 3: Child development part 1
The nature nurture debate is explored and the possible effects of genetics versus the environment and life experiences on child development are discussed. Genetic inheritance is discussed. Child development begins before birth and its influence on prenatal experience and later in shaping the child in terms of personality is explored. What are the external influences on prenatal development and how do these influence the developing child? How and what do children get from their parents from inherited illness to certain behaviours is introduced.
Module 4: Child development part 2
Labour and Childbirth has psychological implications for both the child and mother, so these are explored. Cognition is covered in detail as babies are born with basic innate abilities, but as babies grow, they learn and develop. Early infancy is discussed in terms of what helps an infant make sense of their world and what influences this process? All the factors that affect early development of childhood from biological influences such as how babies see and hear to the role of the parent are discussed in detail. How these concepts and processes are needed in delivering effective child psychology is addressed.
Module 5: How do children form relationships?
Children start life in some form of ‘family’ and so the family system and the role it has is explored. It is thought that the most dramatic changes in social development occur in childhood and this strongly shapes the rest of a child’s life, so there is great interest in studying this phase. How relationships are formed and the process of relationship building is discussed, together with how attachments are formed. The main theorist Bowlby and his Theory of Attachment is used to discuss how children develop as long as separation of a child-mother/care-giver does not happen when a child is 2 years or younger. Attachment happens from the need to gain safety and survival (food). What factors affects attachment, e.g. at different ages, social backgrounds and cultures is assessed and evaluated critically.
Module 6: The minds of children
How children process information in terms of how they conceptualise, learn and store information and retrieve it from short- and long-term memory processes is explored. What is memory, its relevance to child development and the models of memory e.g. the impact of senses on prenatal memory is studied? This will be linked to examining and critiquing theories of cognition, learning and socialisation to child development. Core psychology information and skills are introduced in this context.
Module 7: Emotional development in children
Emotional development in childhood is defined and explored as it is an important biological and psychological process. It can be shaped and influenced by many factors including peer, familial, direct and indirect experience. Different emotional states such as anger and consequential behavioural issues are discussed. During the development of emotions children develop the ‘self.’ The notion of self, what it is and how it helps to shape the person that children will become is explored. What makes some children confident whilst others are desperate to conform, be liked and be popular, whilst others do not care is discussed. Critical evaluation of theories will look at differences in gender on anger, control, aggression and sexual prowess, and the effect of group dynamics on child development.
Module 8: Cognitive development
In its simplest form, cognition is defined as the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses. The first theory of Piaget addresses the stages of child development which he based on the study of his own children and he discovered self-initiated discovery. Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development is based on communication, cultural and historical psychology i.e. greater emphasis is on social input. These two theories will be compared and critically analysed in order to understand cognition and the psychology of children and their development.
Module 9: Language development
Language in the spoken form is perhaps the most important method of communication human beings have. The basic anatomy, biology, physiology and acquisition of oral speech are explained. There are other forms of communication e.g. social interaction and behavioural concepts such as body language. The diversity and function of language within society today is considered and its implications on child development and psychology are discussed in terms of how language is acquired and learned.
Module 10: The adolescent child
Children are children until they are adults, but when is this, and what are the processes which precede adulthood? The final module looks at the physical and psychological aspects of adolescence including gender awareness, the consequences of puberty and hormonal change, reproduction and the influences these changes have on individuality and the emerging adult. What are the key changes? Issues of self-esteem, confidence and self-worth are very important during this phase of child development in terms of physical and psychological changes. The consequential possibilities such as aggression, shyness, peer pressure and relationships are explored. This module is completed with a brief overview and summary of the whole course.
The coursework is assessed through continuous assessment with no formal exit examinations. Through assessment you will cover certain criteria such as:
- Theoretical Knowledge/ Understanding
- Practical Implications
- Integration of Theory and Practice.
The course has TWO Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA); which are graded: Pass or Fail. The grading procedure if Pass or Fail. Your grade will depend upon if the criteria set ha been met and the decision of your tutor. If you Fail an assessment you have the opportunity to amend where your tutor has highlighted and resubmit.
Study Hours (Per Unit)
Approximately: 20 hours personal study time per unit, which is supported by the ODL