Child development programs teach people how children grow and learn. Students learn about the social and biological factors that affect child development. They learn to use this knowledge to plan and design human service programs for children.
"All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten." So proclaims author Robert Fulghum in his bestselling book of the same title. "Share everything." "Play fair." "Hold hands and stick together."
Okay, so maybe Fulghum is exaggerating his case, but he is onto something. A person's childhood development influences not just how he grows up but also what he grows up to be. And there are many ways to explore how this is the case. This is the goal of child development programs.
As a student of child development, you learn about the psychology and sociology of childhood. You also study the findings that past scholars and researchers have concluded from their own child development studies.
You might examine questions such as: Are certain childhood behaviors caused by nature or nurture? Do the things we eat as children affect the way our bodies react to certain foods? To what extent do parents' behaviors rub off on their kids?
Learning about child development prepares you for a wide range of jobs that benefit children. You could teach in an elementary school. You could establish a day-care center. You could research government policies and advocate reforms to better serve the needs of children and parents. These are just a few examples of jobs you could have with a background in child development.
Many schools offer programs in child development where you can earn an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree. In general, you need about two years of full-time study after high school to get an associate's degree and about four years to get a bachelor's.
Graduate study is usually through a developmental psychology program. Be sure to read the related program of study for more information.