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New UW Outreach Course Supports Early Childhood Educators

October 23, 2014

Helping early childhood educators, primary school teachers and parents interested in understanding and supporting young children’s developmental needs, is the goal of a new distance-delivered course offered by the University of Wyoming’s Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education and the UW Outreach School.

The 16 students enrolled in the inaugural, six-week edition of “Independent Study on the Wyoming Early Learning Foundations” are participating in six online units and three synchronous, audio teleconference sessions. Tiernan McIlwaine, an assistant lecturer in the College of Education, created and teaches the class, which is offered for both undergraduate and graduate UW credit.

Grounded in the Wyoming Early Learning Foundations (WELFs), the course guides students through exploration and lesson development tailored to their specific goals and needs. The WELFs, nine early childhood development domains, were developed by a collaborative stakeholder group of early childhood experts, providers, policy makers and UW College of Education faculty researchers.

The course’s first two units focus on understanding child development through age 5. The final four units explore how to plan for children’s development via lesson plans and interventions that support their specific learning goals.

“Participants in these courses have the opportunity to integrate the WELFs into lesson planning for home, child care and preschool environments,” McIlwaine says. “This lesson planning helps parents and practitioners enhance activities with children to maximize growth and development across the WELFs. Rather than thinking of promoting development in math, science or literacy in isolation, participants learn to take advantage of emerging child interests as a method to engage children in activities that address a variety of developmental areas all at the same time.”

Recruitment is underway for the spring edition of the course. For information on course enrollment and financial aid opportunities, contact McIlwaine at

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