What should a student and educator gain, learn, teach to other students, and remember from a Child Psychology course?
What should be gained from any course of study is going to be subjective. However, I think that with a Child Psychology course, one of the most important elements is the examination of what motivates and drives children. For any student and educator, a child psychology course that focuses on "disciplines and theories concerned with the cognitive, psychological, physiological, and social/inter-personal aspects of human development" becomes extremely relevant to one's practice. The ideas presented in a child psychology course have immediate relevance to the daily practice of the teacher. A teacher's daily interaction with children can experience massive benefit from a course in child psychology. Designing learning experiences and constructing policies of discipline are areas where a student and educator can gain from a Child Psychology course. Being able to remember these elements from the course and share these insights with others can help to provide professional meaning to instruction. At the same time, when a teacher engages in student interaction and serves as an advocate for them, recalling concepts explored in a Child Psychology course can make these experiences more meaningful and worthwhile.
Teachers who are students in a Child Psychology course can diagnose which approaches would be more effective with specific children, using case studies and theoretical foundations to guide them. These lessons from a Child Psychology course represent the essence of "best practices." Such practices develop the basis of effective instruction. A Child Psychology course can provide some of these to teachers in the form of studies, theories, and approaches that can yield the most effective elements to students. A Child Psychology course gives the teachers more tools to use in their practice. In an education setting that is so driven by results and differentiating approaches so that every student feels validated in the classroom, it becomes clear that a Child Psychology course provides much in way of worthwhile meaning to an educator. These can be seen both in the classroom and what is shared with others outside of it.
Any Child Psychology course should be applicable at its core. Students should gain a foundational knowledge of psychological theories that help understand child behavior. Ultimately, though, these theories must become more than theories and help those working with children become successful in shaping behavior and future outcomes. The theories on their own are useless without practice in realistic examples of child behavior and practice. Therefore, a good Child Psychology class should include modern analysis of children in their natural environments.
In preparing to teach a Child Psychology course, the instructor should have an excellent working knowledge of basic Child Psychology theories. Additionally, there should be ample opportunity for practical application of these theories in the safe environment of the classroom. Open and honest discourse regarding the advantages and disadvantages of each theory should be encouraged. The goal should be to analyze and diagnose child behavior in order to produce the desired outcomes for the child. Relevance is key.
In attending a Child Psychology course, it is imperative to be open to the ideas and theories posited by the instructor. Each of us comes with a given set of ideas regarding others that has only been shaped by our own experiences. When analyzing human behavior, we must understand the behavior of others is shaped by their experiences, not ours. Therefore, in practicing the theories and in discussion, the student must always look to the future and discover how this knowledge will benefit the children the student plans to encounter, removing his or her own personal experiences from the outcome.
Finally, it is important for all to remember that a Child Psychology course attempts to teach students to analyze, quantify, modify, and manipulate the emotion and behavior of a child. I have found the most useful theory in working with children to be that of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. I've included a link below for further analysis. Basically, children act out because needs are not being met. I have found this to be generally true and extremely helpful in my work. We must never forget that while the study of Child Psychology is often cold and unfeeling, the actual practice is the exact opposite.