Early Childhood: Typical & Atypical Development


Instructor Name:          Dr. Marrea Winnega

Facilitator Name:          Darcie Donegan, MA/Ed.

Phone:                         509-891-7219

Office Hours:               8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday - Friday


Address:                      Virtual Education Software

                                    16201 E Indiana Ave, Suite 1450

                                    Spokane, WA 99216

Technical Support:



Welcome to Early Childhood: Typical & Atypical Development, an interactive distance learning course that covers development during the first six years of life and research-based best practices in early learning. Included will be typical development from the prenatal stage to middle childhood with an emphasis is on individual differences, cultural influences, and the impact of developmental delay and disability. Discussion will also include instructional technology (IT) and assistive technology (AT) applications for this population. 


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)

Title:                            Early Childhood: Typical & Atypical Development

Instructor Name:          Dr. Marrea Winnega

Facilitator Name:          Darcie Donegan, MA/Ed.

Publisher:                     Virtual Education Software, inc.2008, Revised 2012, Revised 2018


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 as one part of a five-part series on early childhood education.  Upon completion of all five courses, you will have covered all of the CDA Competencies to prepare you to take the CDA exam (applicable in certain states).  This course specifically covers CDA Competencies 1-9, 12, and 13 (Check your individual state requirements), which all relate to the establishment of well-run, purposeful programs for young children that are responsive to individual needs and advance the development of the whole child.  This course is designed for anyone planning programs for young children--child-care providers, early childhood educators, and health care or social services providers, to name a few.


Expected Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course students will be able to:

·         Understand basic principles of growth and the foundation of development from conception through 8 years, including genetic and environmental influences.

·         Identify the historical roots, common research practices, prominent child development theorists and theories.

·         Describe sequences, characteristics, and concepts of development in the domains of motor and perceptual, cognitive and communication, social and emotional development for each stage.

·         Recognize individual and cultural differences in child development and socialization.

·         Identify how to create environments, programming, and interactions that support the development of young children, including those with special needs, individually and in groups.

·         Provide professional resources on the typical and atypical development and needs of children prenatal-eight years.


Course Description

The first chapter will present an introduction to the study of child development from conception to age 8. We will examine the historical roots and methods of child study, major psychological theories, and developmental principles and definitions. This information will provide grounding for the following chapters on specific ages and developmental areas.  


In the second chapter we will start to study child development chronologically. We begin with conception and prenatal development and care, and then continue through labor and birth. Next, we consider the special characteristics and needs of the newly delivered baby, including common developmental variations. This overview will include both typical and atypical development.                                                         


The third chapter focuses on infants and toddlers; the first three years of life (ages 1-36 months). We will look at growth and development in the domains of motor-perceptual, cognitive, language, brain, and social-emotional development. This chapter details milestones, red flags, developmental variation, and how adults can safely and appropriately facilitate the development of infants and toddlers.


Finally, Chapter Four discusses early and early middle childhood, or the magic years, ages 3–8 years old (Fraiberg, 1959). The preschool and early elementary school periods are times of great discovery, testing, and wonder. Students will learn about typical and varied 3–8-year-old development in all areas—moral, social, self-esteem, early learning, motor skills, communication abilities, social and brain development, and more. Indicators, or red flags, that suggest developmental delay or deviation are detailed in all chapters, and resources for further research are provided.  


Each chapter contains additional handouts or attachments that cover specific topics from the chapter in greater depth.  They are provided for you to read, ponder, and apply to the early childhood education setting in which you work. Some of the topics are intended for you, as the professional, while others are intended for you to pass on to parents, when appropriate. Each chapter also contains web links that you can choose to access if you want to see videos or research in action related to chapter concepts.  


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 all course journal article and essay writing assignments with the minimum word count shown for each writing assignment.

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


Chapter Topics

Chapter One: Introduction to Child Development

1)      Define child development and basic developmental principles

2)      Understand historical and emerging viewpoints on child study

3)      Recognize major theories and recent trends

4)      Identify research methods, designs and ethics

5)      Appreciate the importance of child development to early childhood educators


Chapter Two: Prenatal and Newborn Development

1)      Outline family contexts of family planning and preparation

2)      Describe the process of conception

3)      Explain the stages of prenatal development

4)      Understand the role of genes and chromosomes in development

5)      Define proper prenatal care and risks to the developing infant

6)      Identify labor and birth options and processes

7)      Discuss atypical conception, prenatal development, labor and birth

8)      Define newborn assessment & care

9)      Understand typical and atypical newborn appearance & abilities


Chapter Three: The Development of Infants (1-12 months) & Toddlers (13-35 months)

1)      Discuss growth patterns and motor development milestones

2)      Describe the development of language and cognitive skills

3)      Define basic brain development principles and terms

4)      Understand normal socio-emotional development of infants and toddlers

5)      Describe cognitive and language development

6)      Recognize common variations and atypical infant and toddler development


Chapter Four: The Development of Preschoolers (3-5 Years) & Young School agers (6-8years)

1)      Understand the typical sequence of growth and motor development, including health issues

2)      Describe preschool & young school-age cognitive development and related theories

3)      Identify language development milestones including emergent literacy approaches

4)      Discuss typical 3-to-8-year-old social-emotional development and milestones

5)      Define developmentally appropriate educational practices for young children

6)      Learn types of atypical development and developmental variations



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.



Writing Assignments

All assignments are reviewed and may impact your final grade.  Exceptionally or poorly written assignments, or violation of the Academic Integrity Policy (see course syllabus for policy), will affect your grade. Fifty percent of your grade is determined by your writing assignments, and your overall exam score determines the other fifty percent.  Refer to the Essay Grading Guidelines which were sent as an attachment with your original course link. You should also refer to the Course Syllabus Addendum which was sent as an attachment with your original course link, to determine if you have any writing assignments in addition to the Critical Thinking Questions (CTQ) and Journal Article Summations (JAS).  If you do, the Essay Grading Guidelines will also apply.


Your writing assignments must meet the minimum word count and are not to include the question or your final citations as part of your word count.  In other words, the question and citations are not to be used as a means to meet the minimum word count.


Critical Thinking Questions

There are four CTQs that you are required to complete. You  will need to write a minimum of 500 words (maximum 1,000) per essay. You  should explain how the information that you gained from the course will be applied and clearly convey a strong understanding of the course content as it relates to each CTQ.  To view the questions, click on REQUIRED ESSAY and choose the CTQ that you are ready to complete; this will bring up a screen where you may enter your essay.  Prior to course submission, you may go back at any point to edit your essay, but you must be certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits.


You must click SAVE before you write another essay or move on to another part of the course.

Journal Article Summations

You are required to write, in your own words, a summary on a total of three peer-reviewed or scholarly journal articles (one article per JAS), written by an author with a Ph.D., Ed.D. or similar, on the topic outlined within each JAS section in the “Required Essays” portion of the course  (blogs, abstracts, news articles or similar are not acceptable). Your article choice must relate specifically to the discussion topic listed in each individual JAS. You will choose a total of three relevant articles (one article per JAS) and write a thorough summary of the information presented in each article (you must write a minimum of  200 words with a 400 word maximum per JAS). Be sure to provide the URL or the journal name, volume, date, and any other critical information to allow the facilitator to access and review each article. 


To write your summary, click on REQUIRED ESSAYS and choose the JAS that you would like to complete. A writing program will automatically launch where you can write your summary. When you are ready to stop, click SAVE.  Prior to course submission you may go back at any point to edit your summaries but you must be certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits. For more information on the features of this assignment, please consult the HELP menu.

You must click SAVE before you write another summary or move on to another part of the course.


Facilitator Description

Early Childhood: Typical & Atypical Child Development has been developed by Darcie Donegan, MA/Ed., the instructor of record. Darcie received her BA at the University of Washington and her master’s degree from Pacific Oaks College in Human Development, specializing in Early Childhood Education and Adult Education. She has worked with young children and their caregivers for more than 30 years in various capacities, including preschool teacher, center director, parent educator, trainer, and consultant. Darcie has also been an international consultant through the Soros Foundation and taught in many different countries. She is currently adjunct faculty in ECE at Whatcom Community College, a Washington State Department of Early Learning approved trainer, and the author of the ten Parenting Preschoolers modules for Washington State’s Organization of Parent Education Programs (OPEP).  Areas of special interest include infants and toddlers, child development, observation and assessment, social-emotional development, brain development, child care, and parenting. Darcie is the mother of three college students (including twins and a son with special needs) and has been married to a (nice) lawyer for 25 years. In addition to writing this course, Darcie is the author of another course in this Early Childhood series called Early Childhood: Observation & Assessment. Please contact Professor Donegan if you have course content or examination questions.


Instructor Description

Dr. Marrea Winnega, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with 20 years of experience in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology in the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Psychiatry. She consults for schools and agencies serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Asperger’s Disorder. She has also conducted numerous workshops, in-services, and trainings throughout the United States.  Please contact Professor Donegan if you have course content or examination questions.


Contacting the Facilitator                                                 

You may contact the facilitator by emailing Professor Donegan at 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 and also the Help section of your course.


If you need personal assistance, then email 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: 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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1/7/20 JN