Child Development Certificate

Learn about child development for use in a child care setting, teaching, child minding, nanny, and more.

Course Code: VRE002
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Learn About Children

Learn how children learn and develop, and train for skills that can be valuable in getting a job to work with children.

  • Course Duration:  600 hours
  • Assessment: 58 assignments and 6 exams

Build an understanding of the way children develop intellectually and physically, and discover how you can help facilitate proper care and development of children. This course lays an extremely sound foundation for understanding children, builds your awareness of the diversity of children's services you may get involved with, and starts you on a path to networking with the industry.

This is a valuable training opportunity for anyone who is passionate about working with children.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Child Development Certificate.
 Child Psychology BPS104
 Play Leadership VRE101
 Playground Design BHT216
 Children's Nutrition BRE304
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 8 modules.
 Children's Writing BWR104
 Educational Psychology BPS105
 Introduction to Psychology BPS101
 Child and Adolescent Mental Health BPS214
 Counselling Children BPS218
 Developmental Psychology BPS210
 Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Disorders in Children and Adolescents BPS215
 Play Therapy BRE214

Note that each module in the Child Development Certificate is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Module Descriptions:

Module 1   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

Module 2   Introduction to Psychology

There are seven lessons in this course, as follows:

  1. The Nature & Scope of Psychology
  2. Neurological Basis of Behaviour
  3. Environmental Effects on Behaviour
  4. Consciousness And Perception
  5. Personality
  6. Psychological Development
  7. Needs, Drives And Motivation


  • Explain the nature and scope of psychology.
  • Explain characteristics of the neurological basis of behaviour.
  • Explain environmental affects on behaviour.
  • Explain the differences between consciousness and perception.
  • Explain the effect of personality on behaviour.
  • Explain psychological development.
  • Apply different techniques to motivate people.

Module 3  Child Psychology
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 persons 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.

Module 4   Children's Writing

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 & understand 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 kids page for a (hypothetical) periodical.

Module 5   Children's Nutrition

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.

Course Scope may include:

  • Interviewing parents regarding the diets (what the children eat for breakfast , lunch and dinner as well as snacks) of their children , they can be family or friends. Make a day’s menu for each one of them according to the information they give you
  • Interviewing pregnant women (family or friends) and question about their daily diet. Note what they have said and write how you would improve their diets.
  • Research for information to make a tasty and healthy weaning mix for a six month old baby. Make your own weaning mix with the information you have gathered.
  • Prepare a diet plan for an 11 year old for three days.
  • Compare the nutrition panel for different staple foods bought from the supermarkets (for example breakfast cereals, stir fry sauces or pasta sauces, fruit bars). Compare the added sugars to natural sugars
  • Do a survey and find out What Australian children and adolescents are actually eating. Write a 200 word report on your survey. (You can conduct your survey by talking to children, adolescents and their parents, by reading articles in magazines and newspapers or by searching the internet).

Module 6   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


  • Determine the procedure to plan a park development, including a playground and other facilities.
  • Prepare a concept plan for a park or playground.
  • Assess the design of park components, including materials and equipment used in parks and playgrounds.
  • Determine appropriate design characteristics for a local or neighbourhood parks.
  • Determine legal implications involved in the design of a playground.
  • Design facilities to cater for movement throughout a park or playground.
  • Manage appropriate community participation in development of a park or playground.


Child development is complex; affected by a range of competing factors from genetic make up, to the environmental conditions they are exposed to, the experiences they are confronted with and perhaps even to some extent "luck".
Arguably, a child who is simply unlucky to lose a parent may (all other factors being equal), develop very differently to another who doesn't.

Anyone who works with children will be interested in understanding causes of certain patterns of behaviour; for instance, in how the child’s environment and relationships (eg. home, school and neighbourhood) affect the child’s development. This involves an attempt to establish causes.

They are also interested in "outcomes" of certain childhood experiences; for example, how does the experience of living in a poverty stricken environment affect the later behaviour of the child?

It is difficult to identify "one" solitary cause for any behaviour. Usually behaviour is far more complex, having been influenced by a mixture of prior experiences.

Nature or Nurture?

The nature-nurture debate is classic conundrum, involving how we explain the causes (ie. determinants) of particular characteristics in people.

The nature position argues that many characteristics are genetically or biologically determined - that is, they are hereditary. Hereditary refers to the transmission of genes from parent to offspring which determine the course of development in a growing embryo.

The nurture position, on the other hand, argues that most characteristics are determined by environmental influences. These influences may be familial, educational or social. Behaviourist and social learning theorists often claim that the infants consciousness is like a blank slate after birth -that all characteristics are the product of the environmental influences the infant experiences.

Consider the following question in the context of the nature-nurture debate:

Why does Mark drink so much alcohol?

It may be because he inherited his father’s genetic predisposition towards alcoholism. Alternatively, it may be because he has learnt the habit from being constantly exposed to his fathers drinking behaviour.

Common sense tells us that often genetic and environmental influences interact to produce a specific characteristic. Most psychologists thus agree that both the nature and nurture approaches should be used in trying to locate the determinants of a child’s characteristics.

Isolating hereditary characteristics

An interesting research method which child psychologists often use is to compare monozygotic twins and dizygotic twins. This provides a way of isolating genetic influence. The rationale is as follows:

  • Since monozygotic (identical) twins are born from the same zygote (an ovum that has been fertilised by a sperm cell), they will have an identical genetic make up.

  • Dizygotic twins are born from two different zygotes, thus their genetic make-up differs as much as any two siblings genetic make-up would.

Example: A study to see if intelligence is genetically determined.

The researcher will want to see if the intellectual capacity of identical twins is more similar, or more closely correlated than that of dizygotic twins. If it is (and this has actually been discovered to be correct) then the evidence indicates that intelligence is largely genetically determined.

Cause versus correlation

Though the ideal aim of the child psychologist may be to identify the causes of a specific behaviour or characteristic, this is practically impossible to do.

In a world with such a multitude of influences -things happen all of the time - it is not possible to attribute one cause to one characteristic.

Example: It has been discovered that children brought up in an impoverished environment often have a low level of cognitive ability.

  • Firstly, we cannot say that the former causes the latter, because there are always exceptions to the rule (ie. There are always disadvantaged children who succeed in intellectual pursuits).

  • Secondly, we cannot isolate what particular influence in the environment has caused cognitive disadvantages -is it inadequate education, poor nutrition, stress in the home, lack of play things (eg. toys), or something else? It could be any one (or several) of these.

Instead of using the term "cause", child psychologists use the term correlation.

In the above case they say that there is a high correlation between impoverished environment and low cognitive ability in children. The term correlation means that there is a strong association, which, in some contexts, implies that the one variable (environment) has a strong influence on the other variable (cognition).

Rather than wasting their time trying to find "causes", researchers focus on the degree of association or influence expressed in the term correlation.

Continuity versus Discontinuity

Theorists differ as to how they regard the way in which people change as they get older. Some regard human development as a continuous, sequential process; they view development as a process of continuous building upon previous knowledge, with no abrupt changes occurring. Others however view development as a series of distinct stages, each stage having its own peculiar characteristics, with fairly abrupt changes occurring as a person moves from one stage to the next.
According to the "stage theorists", each stage of development has a dominant theme; each stage is qualitatively different from the previous stage; and stages occur in a fixed universal sequence.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner.
John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.

Tracey Jones

Widely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience.
Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies).

Jacinda Cole (Psychologist)

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist.
B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA
Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. She has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Jacinda has worked for ACS for over 10 years.


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Yvonne Sharpe

Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Jade Sciascia

Former Business Coordinator, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Administrator (Recruitment), Senior Supervisor (Youth Welfare). International Business Manager for IARC. Academic officer and writer with ACS for over 10 years, both in Australia and in the UK.

Tracey Jones

Tracey has over 20 years 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 is a book reviewer for the British Journal of Social Work. Tracey has also written a text book on Psychology and has had several short stories published.

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