Course Description

Many risk factors can affect a child’s developmental outcomes. For example, children experiencing poverty, one of the most common risk factors for development, may experience negative impacts to their physical, social-emotional, and cognitive well-being. Yet the brain is malleable and learns from experiences throughout the life span. In collaboration with families, educators have the opportunity to reduce the severity of the effects of risk by utilizing methods and strategies designed to promote learning and self-esteem in “at risk” students. This course introduces preschool and elementary educators to common risk factors children may encounter, and cultivates an understanding of the effects early experiences have on a child’s development. Educators will also discuss the importance and challenges of holding all children to high expectations to ensure each child’s school-readiness needs are met. Embedded throughout the course, you will find strategies to enhance developmentally and culturally appropriate instruction, guidance for developing supports for families, and methods to engage issues of diversity and cultural bias to create anti-bias programs.

Learner Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the conditions that affect children’s development and learning, including risk factors, developmental variations, culture and environment, and developmental patterns of specific disabilities.
  2. Understand how early life experiences determine brain structure and therefore learning
  3. Explain the risk factors poverty causes in the areas of cognitive, language, social-emotional, and physical development. 
  4. Understand the importance of families as the child’s first teacher, understand the relationships with family and community, and be able to create and maintain those relationships to support children’s learning and development.
  5. Understand the differences in family structures, function, and sociocultural backgrounds and be responsive to differences in cultural, socio-economic status, and at risk indicators.
  6. Know the hallmarks of well-researched, developmentally and culturally appropriate programs and the positive long term outcomes that result for enrolled children.
  7. Understand how to evaluate, modify, adapt, and differentiate instructional materials, strategies, and the environment to meet the specific developmental needs of at risk children
  8. Apply specific and developmentally appropriate strategies to remediate risk effects in the areas of Home & Community; Schoolwide; and Classroom.
  9. Demonstrate an understanding of the laws and terms governing all students regarding HIPPA/FERPA and young children with special needs, and the implications for the teacher.
  10. Be able to recognize the signs of stress and trauma in children and be able to provide a safe and nurturing classroom environment.
  11. Demonstrates understanding of the mandatory requirements for teachers in reporting suspected cases of child abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities and understand reporting protocols in the workplace.
  12. Be able to explain the processes of second language development and provide strategies for ELL learners
  13. Understand the importance of holding all children to high expectation regardless of their background and the consideration of school readiness factors.
  14. Engage in the practice of self-reflection about personal biases and change their practices as needed.
  15. Understand the principles of Anti-Bias Education and ensure that their persona views, curriculum, and classroom follow anti-bias principles.
  16. Formulate an intervention plan for an ethnically diverse, low SES student that includes participation from all significant adults and remediation strategies for all areas of development and curriculum.
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Section Title
Supporting At-Risk Learners and Their Families
Start Now, you have 365 days to complete this course once enrolled.
Delivery Options
Course Fee(s)
SPU Tuition credit (3 units) $345.00
Available for Credit
3 Quarter Credits
Reading List / Textbook

Teaching With Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does To Kids Brains and What Schools Can Do About It.;  Jensen; ASCD; 2009.

Home and School Relations: Teachers and Parent’s Working Together; 4th edition.  Olsen & Fuller.  Pearson. 2012   (Digital: ISBN-13: 978-0-13-299952-6 or Print: ISBN-13: 978-0-13-237338-8)

Anti Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves. Derman-Sparks & Edwards  NAEYC 2012 (ISBN-13: 978-1928896678)


Section Notes

Course is self-paced. Completion time: up to one year from date of enrollment.

Refund Policy: Withdrawals submitted online through SPU within 7 days of enrollment will receive a 95% refund. Withdrawals received after that point will not receive a refund and no withdrawals will be accepted after the completion deadline for the course. Instructions on how to withdraw are located on our website under Students/Withdrawal and Refund Policies.


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