The Learning Curve

Increase Your Skills and Knowledge of Early Child Development

The premier resource for infant and early childhood practitioners on early developmental processes that are core to your daily work providing developmentally appropriate services. The Learning Curve is a self-assessment tool that helps you explore your knowledge of early child development and helps practitioners figure out areas for self improvement.

(You will be prompted to create a Free account)
Your information is private. Only you will have access to your individual feedback reports.

Assess your Current Understanding and Knowledge

This assessment will help you to determine your Learning Zones in five Knowledge Domains.

Get Instant Feedback To Help Further Your Skills

You will receive immediate feedback summarizing your responses in the five Knowledge Domains.

See Your Skills Build

Return to The Learning Curve over time and re-assess your skills as you use the resources to strengthen your ability to apply the concepts.

Early Child Development is Profoundly Rich and Complex!​

Listen to Leaders in our Professions​

“If we understand the process of toilet training from the point of view of the pre-verbal child with his primitive thinking we can help the child accept his training and cooperate with it, we can understand his difficulties and not increase them, and we can avoid some serious problems….” (The Magic Years, pg 95)
“The second year of life is ushered in by two momentous achievements: the beginning of internal representation, marked by language and symbolic play, and the onset of locomotion. Play has important cognitive, social, and emotional functions….Play is also a major avenue for mastering anxiety.” (Handbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 1)
Lieberman & Slade
1997, The Second Year of Life
“As representation develops, so do children’s abilities to modulate and monitor behavior and to test reality….(the third year) is the period that Erikson termed the crisis of autonomy versus shame and doubt and that Mahler believed was the crucial and final stage of the separation-individuation process…” (Handbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 1)
Slade & Lieberman
1997, The Third Year of Life
“It has been well documented that representational gestures emerge within familiar games and routines that parents and other caregivers utilize to engage children… The communicative function expressed by children’s gestures can also be used to help in decision making about a child’s developmental status and need for intervention.” (American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, Vol. 18)
…intentional communication is one manifestation of emerging intentionality. Bates (1979, pg. 36) defined intentional communication as “signaling behavior in which the sender is aware a priori of the effect that a signal will have on his listener, and he persists in that behavior until the effect is obtained or failure is clearly indicated”. However, not all communicative behaviors are intentional. Any behavior can serve a communicative function regardless of whether the effect was intended. (Semantics in Speech and Language, pgs. 77-91)
Wetherby & Prizant

User Comments

"Reflection - I think I scored myself in the "new concept" more frequently on this second assessment than I did on the first. This makes me happy, as I am realizing there is a difference from what I thought I knew, and what I actually know. This realization opens up a whole new world of opportunities to ask questions and continue my learning journey!"
Nurse Family Partnership
staff member
"What an informative process. By taking this survey, I realize how much I miss feeding my own professional development. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the survey. I look forward to the launch of Learning Curve to the 0 to 5 community."
Invited Reviewer

See Your Skills Build

Return to The Learning Curve over time as you use the resources to strengthen your ability to apply the concepts. Revisit The Learning Curve to evaluate the impact of your recommended learning activities. Find out about changes in your knowledge base. Strengthening your knowledge base will help you to apply these concepts in work with each individual child who needs the support of your intervention capacities/abilities.

Get Instant Feedback To Help Further Your Skills

The Learning Curve will provide you with immediate feedback summarizing your responses in the five Knowledge Domains: Knowledge of Assessment Approaches, Developmental Skill Areas, Social and Emotional Developmental Processes, Professional Engagement and Clinical Formulation. Learn more about the Knowledge Domains here. Feedback will identify your Learning Zones along the continuum from New Concept to Application. Feedback will also identify some Resources (above) for some suggested reading to support your learning process.

Assess your Current Understanding and Knowledge

Completing The Learning Curve will help you to determine your Learning Levels in five knowledge domains that are the foundation of infant/family practice. You will receive information about areas of strength and areas where additional support will enhance your capacity to apply these concepts in daily practice.

Social-Emotional Developmental Processes - The foundation of all relational health

Social and emotional developmental processes contribute to the child’s successes and challenges in social interaction and social “problem-solving”. How able is the practitioner to use understanding of age expected presentations of symbolic play, representational capacities,  social communication cues to engage peers or caregivers, dynamics of individuation, and emerging sense of self, as windows into powerful motivators of a child’s behaviors and reactions. These motivations underlie both normative presentations of challenging behaviors and also support the practitioner’s capacity to identify maladaptive motivational organizations that undermine the child’s developmental trajectory.

Developmental Skill Areas – identify the make-up of functional developmental capacities

How able is the practitioner to use knowledge about age-related skill levels to characterize the child’s capacity to effectively employ developmental skills to solve the array of problems that the child encounters in the context of daily activities.  Through observation and interaction based activities, the practitioner determines whether a child demonstrates age level functional competencies across the routines and settings of daily life and in interactions with all caregivers? Or are there difficulties with specific developmental skills that undermine functional competency and limit the child’s capacity to adapt successfully to solve the problems of his/her daily life

Assessment Approaches - Sit alongside of and observe

Assessment activities are based on the capacity to observe young children and caregivers organized by a general approach to assessment. This general approach is inclusive of family context, parent-child interaction, caregiver representations of self and child, and caregiver behaviors that contribute to adaptive/maladaptive relational health.  The assessment involves compilation of data on familial and child health, functional developmental status, behavioral presentation, and cultural impact on the child and family system. Assessment supports “problem-setting”, the process of naming and framing the problematic situation impacting the child and family.

Clinical Formulation – Organizing and re-organizing the problematic situation

Formulation is the process of developing hypotheses about “what is going on” for this child and family at this time.  Formulation involves knitting assessment data together into an understanding of the factors predisposing (history) to the current problematic situation and identifying precipitating (current triggers), perpetuating (ongoing contributing factors), and protective factors (resources and strengths) in order to develop treatment objectives and a treatment plan. (This process may or may not require applying classification system diagnostic labels, depending on funding sources.)

Professional Engagement - Being comfortable with ones’ own self in order to be with families and young children.

We each must endeavor to recognize our own beliefs and knowledge and recognize that the other person’s sense of meaningfulness is equally as strongly embraced.  Our ability to be respectful of difference or sameness is terribly powerful; it leaves us able to be curious and to understand.

Maintaining a clear sense of comfort with our roles is the essence of sustaining a sense of boundaries and flexibility in these boundaries “as they may need to shift.” More important, it is the sense of true mutual responsibility, the sense of working with a person rather than doing something to that person that is the crucial attitude that protects everyone.