Supporting Children’s development is one of six new free online courses

January 3, 2017

Supporting Children’s development is one of six new free online courses developed by the Open University-managed Social Partnerships Network, for anyone looking to improve their skills and knowledge, move up in their career, or take a new direction. 

Supporting children’s development may be of particular interest to Teaching Assistants, Nursery Nurses, Nursery Assistants, other support staff in schools and nurseries, as well as childminders, parents and those considering a career working with children. It will help learners to develop a deeper understanding of children's development. Topics covered include the development and management of relationships, encouraging reading, behavioural management, special educational needs and the importance of reflective practice.

Interactive and fun-to-do, the course consists of approximately 15 hours of learning, but it can be studied in shorter chunks of time. Indeed, each of the 5 sections of the course takes between 2 and 3 hours to complete, with no imposed deadlines for section or course completion. So people can learn at their own pace and in their own time, for instance fitting learning around family or work commitments. 

As learners complete each section of the course, they can choose to take a short quiz and collect digital badges, which can then be shared with their employer and displayed on social media sites. If they complete all the badgesavailable for the course, they are awarded a Statement of Participation, which recognises their learning for the whole course and can also be shared online. Here is a brief overview of the 5 sections of the course:

1. Developing and managing relationships looks at the stages of child development through the use of case studies and an introduction to child development theory. It considers the roles of family, as well as support workers, in relation to this development.

2. Encouraging reading considers how children learn to read and develop literacy skills from when they are babies to secondary school.

3. Behavioural management looks at possible causes of children and young people’s behaviour and some common strategies for managing behaviour. supporting children development

4. Special needs looks at what we mean by special educational needs and disability (SEND) and the role of teaching assistants in supporting children with SEND.

5. Professional development plan (PDP) looks at the importance of reflecting on personal practice and how drawing up a PDP can help learners’ to think about their personal and career development.There is no badge available for this section. 

Jennifer Colloby, head of department of education in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education & Languages at the OU and a member of the team who developed the course said: “The course content covers a wide range of contemporary issues and so is very relevant. As well as being accessible, its flexibility means that it can be fitted in around work or other commitments. The aspects covered are very relevant to working with and developing children in many different settings.”

Learner feedback has been very positive, both about the format and content of the course:

• “The course was easy to follow and flowed well, the mixture of written, visual and audio was useful.” 

The other courses available can be found here:

The courses were developed along with the PEARL website, standing for Part-time Education for Adults Returning to Learn. The site is the ‘go-to’ place for anyone trying to find their way through the maze of opportunities available to adult learners. PEARL offers clear information, advice and guidance on a comprehensive range of options from short, free, online courses through to higher level learning. It contains a diagnostic ‘Advise me’ tool, which gives personalised advice based on people’s circumstances and aspirations, as well as a great range of real life case studies that show what people can achieve through returning to study.

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