“A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.” – Robert Heinlein

Why is it important to study how children grow, learn and change? An understanding of child development is essential as it allows us to fully appreciate the cognitive, emotional, physical, social and educational growth that children go through from birth and into early adulthood.

Babies and young children are fascinating – why do they put everything in their mouths? Why do 2 year olds play alone but 3-4 year olds want friends? In this subject, you will look at child development patterns and how we decide what types of toys, resources and activities will be suitable and safe to put out. Knowledge of the patterns of child development helps us know how to support children at different ages; this is also needed to recognise when some children need additional support because they are not showing typical patterns of development.

The course also studies play which is a vital way to support children’s development. Early years settings plan a range of play opportunities and activities that will help children to learn; we look at the different ways play is structured and how early years settings use these. The course also looks at the principles of early years practice and how each child benefits from the opportunities on offer within early years settings and how children are supported.

At BTEC Level 3, we study a myriad of units all of which enhance a student’s ability to research; how we put theory into practice and students also complete work placement in a setting that supports children aged 0-8 years.

Key information:

Curriculum Progression

Key Stage 4 (Level 1/2 First Award)

This is a course that students do not start until Year 10. They are introduced to the process of typical and atypical patterns of child development; play and learning and early years practice. Students have to take an external exam in the Patterns of Child Development and complete 7 assignments for their portfolio work, these assignments include how children play at different ages, how play is structured and how early years settings organise play opportunities. Students will also complete work on inclusive and non-inclusive practice, empowerment and key workers.

Key Stage 5 (Level 3 National Diploma (EYE))

At Key Stage 5, students are introduced to a more in-depth study of children development and work placement hours. Students learn how children gain skills and abilities, this includes the development of language and thinking and a range of theories that cover behaviour, the processing of information, attachment and moral development. Students will be able to apply units studied such as communication, literacy and numeracy; play and learning; keeping children safe and working with parents and others in early years whilst they do at least one day a week on placement.

Units studied are demanding in terms of content but once successfully completed, students will have a licence to practice as an early years educator.