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Early Childhood

Infant & Toddler Mental Health:
Issues & Information for Educators



Instructor Name:

Dr. Pamela Bernards, Ed.D.


Aumony Dahl, M.Ed.



Office Hours:

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday - Friday




Virtual Education Software


23403 E Mission Avenue, Suite 220F


Liberty Lake, WA 99019

Technical Support:





Welcome to Infant & Toddler Mental Health: Issues & Information for Educators, an interactive computer-based instruction course designed to help you achieve a better understanding of infant and toddler mental health, child development, and strategies you can use to promote positive relationships with children and their families. This course provides information that will help you to understand and identify your role as a child care provider, educator, and early childhood professional. Infant & Toddler Mental Health will provide you with research-based information on early child development, attachment, temperament, and curriculum. This course also lists resources for both teachers and parents who would like more help or information about infant and toddler mental health.


This computer-based instruction course is a self-supporting program that provides instruction, structured practice, and evaluation all on your home or school computer.  Technical support information can be found in the Help section of your course.



Course Materials (Online)


Infant & Toddler Mental Health: Issues & Information for Educators


Virtual Education Software, inc. 2007, Revised 2010, Revised 2014, Revised 2018, Revised 2021


Dr. Pamela Bernards, Ed.D.


Aumony Dahl, M.Ed.



Academic Integrity Statement

The structure and format of most distance-learning courses presume a high level of personal and academic integrity in completion and submission of coursework. Individuals enrolled in a distance-learning course are expected to adhere to the following standards of academic conduct.

Academic Work

Academic work submitted by the individual (such as papers, assignments, reports, tests) shall be the student’s own work or appropriately attributed, in part or in whole, to its correct source. Submission of commercially prepared (or group prepared) materials as if they are one’s own work is unacceptable.

Aiding Honesty in Others

The individual will encourage honesty in others by refraining from providing materials or information to another person with knowledge that these materials or information will be used improperly.


Violations of these academic standards will result in the assignment of a failing grade and subsequent loss of credit for the course.



Level of Application

This course is designed to be an informational course with application to early childhood education or childcare settings. The curriculum and strategies presented are designed for children from birth to thirty-six months of age. Some alterations may be needed when working with children with sensory processing disorders or other developmental disabilities. This course also incorporates the applicable Division for Early Childhood (DEC) Recommended Practices in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education, in addition to the newest National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation Standards (2018), and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was signed into law on December 10, 2015. ESSA both sustains and expands the nation's investment in increasing access to high-quality early childhood education for all children. This course is designed for anyone planning programs for young children: childcare providers, early childhood educators, and healthcare or social services providers, to name a few.



Course Objectives

·         To define infant and toddler mental health and explain why it is so important;

·         To discuss core concepts in early development from birth to thirty-six months;

·         To explore current research on brain development, including examining conditions for healthy development and the effect of adverse experiences;

·         To increase the ability to observe typically developing infants and toddlers, as well as to identify infants and toddlers with mental health issues;

·         To provide information and best practice methods used in the care of infants and toddlers and their families;

·         To increase knowledge in the research areas of attachment and temperament; and

·         To provide resources for early childhood educators and care-providers to help them strengthen the children and families with whom they work.



Course Description

The Infant & Toddler Mental Health course has been divided into four chapters that are designed to inform parents, professionals, and care providers by: providing an overview of the core concepts of early development; reviewing developmental milestones; exploring current research on brain development; examining what curriculum looks like for infants and toddlers; exploring the importance of early attachment; reviewing different temperament traits; and providing suggestions for strengthening families. Upon completing this course you should have the basic framework for understanding the critical role of infant and toddler mental health, as well as developmental knowledge of children from birth to thirty-six months.



Student Expectations       

As a student you will be expected to:

·         Complete all four information sections showing a competent understanding of the material presented in each section.

·         Complete all four section examinations, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.  You must obtain an overall score of 70% or higher, with no individual exam score below 50%, and successfully complete ALL writing assignments to pass this course. *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete a review of any section on which your examination score was below 50%.

·         Retake any examination, after completing an information review, to increase that examination score to a minimum of 50%, making sure to also be achieving an overall exam score of a minimum 70% (maximum of three attempts). *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete a course evaluation form at the end of the course.



Course Chapters Overview

Chapter 1: Early Childhood Development

Chapter One is an Introduction to Infant & Toddler Mental Health. In this chapter we will clarify what infant and toddler mental health is, discuss why it is so important, and review three core concepts of early development. We will look at current research on brain development and discuss optimal conditions for the development of brain architecture in young children. We will also look at the life-long implications that adverse early childhood experiences have on the developing brain. Lastly, we will discuss how the interaction of biology, relationships, and environment impacts brain development in very young children, and review the core values that support the philosophy of this course.


Chapter 2: Additional Areas of Development

In Chapter Two we will look at child development from infancy to thirty-six months. We will briefly review what experts have to say about the following topics related to child development: child development theory, development of emotions, development of self, human development, SIDS, brain development, nutrition, development of vision and hearing, and finally, language development.


Chapter 3: Personal & Classroom Issues

In Chapter Three we will discuss the importance of infant and toddler curriculum. You will learn some vital information concerning curriculum, such as what is appropriate, what is meaningful, and what promotes the relationship between you, the child, and the child's family. We will review the latest information about play and how it benefits a child’s development. Finally, we will discuss school-readiness and look at several key characteristics of school-ready children.


Chapter 4: Personal & Family Issues

In Chapter Four we will discuss the important role attachment plays in the development of young children. We will discuss different types of attachment and examine several risk factors that impede healthy attachment in young children. We will look at methods for fostering secure attachment. We will define temperament, examine specific temperament traits, and review research about the impact of temperament on child development. We will discuss numerous practical strategies for supporting all children, regardless of their temperament. Finally, we will briefly discuss variables such as language and literacy, culture, gender, race, and socio-economic status that may influence connections with families (these variables will be thoroughly examined in another course in this series called Family-Centered Services). We will explore ways in which we can work to strengthen families, which ultimately has a positive impact on the well-being of the children we serve.




At the end of each chapter, you will be expected to complete an examination designed to assess your knowledge. You may take these exams a total of three times. Your last score will save, not the highest score.  After your third attempt, each examination will lock and not allow further access.  Your final grade for the course will be determined by calculating an average score of all exams.  This score will be printed on your final certificate.  As this is a self-paced computerized instruction program, you may review course information as often as necessary. You will not be able to exit any examinations until you have answered all questions. If you try to exit the exam before you complete all questions, your information will be lost. You are expected to complete the entire exam in one sitting.



Facilitator Description 

Aumony Dahl received her Master’s degree in Exceptional Children from Western Washington University. She is certified to teach in K–12 Special Education with an additional endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education. Aumony began her career working as an elementary special education teacher for several years. She is currently an instructor in the Special Education Department at Western Washington University, teaching a variety of classes on topics related to early childhood special education, students with complex special needs, assessment and evaluation, and program planning. Aumony is also a supervisor for practicum students who are training to become teachers. In addition to this course, Aumony has authored other courses in this Early Childhood series—Early Childhood: Program Planning and Early Childhood: Family-Centered Services. Please contact Professor Dahl if you have course content or examination questions.



Instructor Description

Pamela Bernards has 30 years of combined experience in diverse PK–8 and high school settings as a teacher and an administrator. In addition to these responsibilities, she was the founding director of a K–8 after school care program and founder of a pre-school program for infants to 4-year-olds to address all early childhood issues. When she was a principal, her school was named a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. More recently, the school in which she serves as curriculum coordinator was named a 2010 Blue Ribbon School. Areas of interest include curriculum, research-based teaching practices, staff development, assessment, data-driven instruction, and instructional intervention with exceptional populations. She received a doctorate in Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University. Please contact Professor Dahl if you have course content or examination questions.



Contacting the Facilitator

You may contact the facilitator by emailing Professor Dahl at aumony_dahl@virtualeduc.com or calling her at 509-891-7219, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PST. Phone messages will be answered within 24 hours. Phone conferences will be limited to ten minutes per student, per day, given that this is a self-paced instructional program. Please do not contact the instructor about technical problems, course glitches, or other issues that involve the operation of the course.



Technical Questions

If you have questions or problems related to the operation of this course, please try everything twice. If the problem persists, please check our support pages for FAQs and known issues at www.virtualeduc.com and also the Help section of your course.


If you need personal assistance, then email support@virtualeduc.com or call (509) 891-7219. When contacting technical support, please know your course version number (it is located at the bottom left side of the Welcome Screen) and your operating system, and be seated in front of the computer at the time of your call.


Minimum Computer Requirements

Please refer to VESi’s website: www.virtualeduc.com or contact VESi if you have further questions about the compatibility of your operating system.



Refer to the addendum regarding Grading Criteria, Course Completion Information, Items to be Submitted and how to submit your completed information. The addendum will also note any additional course assignments that you may be required to complete that are not listed in this syllabus.




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American Academy of Pediatrics (http://www.aap.org)

American Institute for Research (https://www.air.org/)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/children-faq.html)

Center for Parent Information and Resources (http://www.parentcenterhub.org/)

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (https://developingchild.harvard.edu/)

Child Welfare Information Gateway (https://www.childwelfare.gov/)

Council for Exceptional Children (http://www.cec.sped.org)

Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance (ELCTA) Program (https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ecd/early-learning/race-top)

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (https://www.ed.gov/essa?src=ft)

Global Family Research Project (https://globalfrp.org/)

High/Scope Educational Research Foundation (http://www.highscope.org)

National Association for the Education of Young Children (http://naeyc.org)

National Association of Counsel for Children (http://www.naccchildlaw.org/)

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (http://aem.cast.org/)

National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance (https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov/centers/national-center-early-childhood-quality-assurance)

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (http://www.nctsn.org/)

National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (https://fpg.unc.edu/projects/national-early-childhood-technical-assistance-center-nectac)

Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) (https://ecquality.acf.hhs.gov/)

Technical Assistance Center on Social-Emotional Intervention for Young Children (http://challengingbehavior.fmhi.usf.edu/)

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Vort Corporation (http://www.vort.com)

Zero to Three Organization (http://www.zerotothree.org)


Course content is updated every three years. Due to this update timeline, some URL links may no longer be active or may have changed. Please type the title of the organization into the command line of any Internet browser search window and you will be able to find whether the URL link is still active or any new link to the corresponding organization's web home page.


Updated 11/8/21 JN