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The World of the Infant: The First Year of Life

This course is about infants, parents and the first year of life. The primary goal of the course is for students to internalize a solid and accessible grasp of infant development across individual differences and contexts. There will be a strong emphasis on using theory to facilitate one's understanding and development and to articulate a point of view about these extraordinary first months. Research, theory, and our own observations of infants both during and outside of class, will be brought together to understand the cognitive, perceptual, sensorimotor movement and social-emotional changes which occur through interaction with the world. We attend to the specific contributions of familial and cultural contexts as well as the contributions of infants themselves, as we strive to achieve a fair balance between the "expected" global shifts in development and the profound individual differences that each human being presents. This is not a "how to" course. Rather, the course provides knowledge of the basic developmental systems that can be seen in developing children with a range of abilities and disabilities. Students work on articulating their knowledge of development and of new findings in the field, and they practice communicating such knowledge clearly to parents. The course is organized around a semester-long study of an individual infant in a family. This study, along with on-going electronic journal discussions, provides an opportunity for a rich integration of developmental theory with real babies. Prerequisite: EDUC 500 or EDUC 800.