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Why is it that by the time students finish high school they have spent more time learning to drive than they have learning the information they will need to become good parents?  This course is designed to address that problem. Although it is not a parenting course, it is designed to give middle and high school students information about children and child development. The material is contained in stand-alone modules that can be used by a range of educators. The modules promote critical thinking, language arts and quantitative skills while at the same time teaching students about how human beings are best nurtured and cared for years 0-5.

This program was developed based on our concern that Connecticut’s schools need to have an efficient and cost-effective means to include curriculum on child development and parenting within existing educational mandates, within courses currently taught to all students. This course is thus an “add-on” which can be used in full, as a nine week or longer exploration, or via selecting particular modules to fit in as little as a four week course.  Each module contains a list of exercises that will weave our curriculum into language arts and mathematics classes. Instructors thus have substantial leeway with regard to what to choose, omit, or expand on.

This curriculum provides a textbook and all materials needed for the modules (see the respective website pages). The teacher (or student) is not required to have advanced practice of computer/web use in order to access data from students. The course is “on-line” in sense that it can be used independently by students without classroom time being used for lecture. Classroom time is best used for group work, class discussions on student’s inquiries and discoveries, and for presentations of findings. This program engages students in their own learning. We have designed the course to be more than a content mastery exercise. Instead, we rely on the student to explore and observe, find information, assess what’s useful and relevant, collaborate with peers and teacher, conduct analyses through critical thinking, and effectively communicate their findings in written, oral, digital, or artistic expression.

The course will enable students to understand the basic structural and environmental influences that shape human development, and to consider what influences parents can have in making good decisions to support their child’s health, well-being, education, and future. A broad view is taken which allows the student to think about continuity and change from generation to generation. We have omitted presentations related to sex education apart from considerations of why postponing parenthood makes sense until an adult is fully positioned and prepared to take on that responsibility.

The structure of the course generally takes the form of an initial presentation of content, vocabulary, information, and/or relevant questions and discussion of what may make these questions relevant for the student. Typically it may be expected that the didactic portion of the course will require two days of teacher presentation or self study of the materials provided. The student has then to research from a selection of subtopics within the module. This can be done in teams, and may fill another two days with group and/or individual study and exploration. Finally, students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge through expressions related to a field observation or critical thinking exercises. It is suggested that the results of each student’s work be put into a digital portfolio, which can be accessed by other students, the teacher, or the parent, and would be presented and shared with the class on the last day of module coverage. There are also brief pre- and post-tests provided so that the instructor can gather data on basic content knowledge acquisition if so desired.


Robert Margolies, Ph.D.

Director of the Motivation Center of Stratford, Inc.

School Psychologist, New Have Public Schools

Co-President Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education