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Driven to Discover

Infant Toddler Movement and Brain Development: Understanding the Critical Connection

This course was formerly called Critical Learning Through Movement: Infants and Toddlers Exploring Their World

Earn 42 clock hours or 1 Academic Credit

Next Session: June 26 to August 7, 2017 (six weeks)

Toddler toddlingThis course explores the influence of physical activity on learning/cognitive and social-emotional development in infancy and toddlerhood. In these early ages, movement is developmentally essential for laying a strong foundation for brain development. Practical application will focus on the skills used in infancy and toddlerhood, theory influencing assessment and the use of evidenced-based practice. Participants will gain an understanding of the physical activities of early development that lead to a positive developmental trajectory for each baby and toddler. International students are welcome!

Learning Objectives

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

  • Understand early brain development and the impact this has for movement in infancy
  • Understand brain function/growth and development as stimulated by movement for learning motor skills, cognitive skills, and social-emotional skills of infancy and toddlerhood
  • Understand the concepts of the expression of a range of normal development and the critical role of an actively engaged adult for early childhood learning
  • Understand the main theories of human development currently framing the understanding of appropriate physical activities for infants and toddlers

The course is divided into eight learning modules:

Unit 1: Introduction

Unit 2: Nature Nurture: A Basis of Early Brain Development

Unit 3: Basic Brain Development

Unit 4: Movements of Infants and Toddlers

Unit 5: Models of Human Development and Motor Development

Unit 6: Best Practice in Infant Toddler Movement Skill Performance

Unit 7: Domain Development and Movement Skill Performance

Unit 8: Major Tasks of Gross and Fine Motor and Associated Social-Emotional and Cognitive Development

This online course is approved by the Minnesota Center for Professional Development to count toward career lattice steps.


For 42 clock hours: $400 registration fee

For 1 academic credit: $400

Registration Information

To register for clock hours:

  1. Please read important information in About Online Courses.
  2. Register and pay online. You will receive a confirmation of registration.
  3. You will be emailed getting started instructions, including how to access the course site, on the Friday before the session begins.

To register for academic credit:

There is a two-step registration process. You must complete both steps in order to fully and completely register for this course. You will be emailed getting started instructions, including how to access the course site, on the Friday before the session begins.

  • Degree-seeking students currently enrolled at the University of Minnesota may not use our for-credit courses toward their degree program. Should a currently enrolled student choose to register for academic credit, the student may be subjected to additional University fees.
  • Degree-seeking students enrolled in schools other than the University of Minnesota wishing to use our course as an elective must directly seek prior approval from their degree program.
  1. Please read important information in About Online Courses.
  2. Register online.
  3. Complete and submit the Registration Request for Graduate Credit form. Complete the highlighted sections (e.g., do NOT register via OneStop; send your Grad Credit Request form to CEED, not the University). Questions? Contact Karen Anderson at Please submit this form as soon as possible. CEED will obtain the appropriate approval signatures and forward your form to One Stop Student Services.
  4. When the University processes your request form, you will receive a confirmation from One Stop Student Services with information regarding your student account and payment. You must activate your student account to make your payment.
  5. On the Friday before the session begins, you will be emailed getting started instructions, including how to access the course site.

Required Materials

Your readings are included on the course site. You are required to rent and view a documentary called Babies (available online for a small fee). No additional materials are required for purchase.

Carol Leitschuh, Instructor

Carol LeitschuhCarol Leitschuh, Ph.D. is a Fulbright Scholar specializing at CEED in early childhood movement for children with atypical and typical movement patterns. Her international expertise is brought to focus in both theory and practice to readily be used across cultures and family contexts. For very young children, movement experiences are seen as critical in addressing positive developmental trajectories and avoiding cumulative risk. Dr Leitschuh’s expertise is in assessment and evaluation. She is recognized as a special education scholar in America and abroad publishing Special Physical Education now in the 10th Edition. With a United States Department of Education grant, Dr. Leitschuh developed a valid and reliable monitoring tool of infant/toddler movement referred to as the Individual Growth and Development Indicator for Infant/Toddler Movement (Movement IGDI). The tool is used for 2 minutes in a standardized observation and is reported to be highly and significantly correlated with an overall comprehensive assessment of motor skills at these young ages. For consultations including speaking engagements or trainings, contact Carol Leitschuh at

Dr. Leitschuh authored and instructs the online courses Infant/Toddler Movement and Brain Development: Understanding the Critical Connection and Preschooler Movement and Brain Development: Promoting the Critical Connection.

Recent Publications

Leitschuh, C.A., Harring, J. R., & Dunn, W. (2014). A monitoring tool of infant toddler movement skill. Journal of Early Intervention, 36(1), 18-36.

Recent Presentations

Leitschuh, C.A., (2016, June 12-14). Everybody moves, everybody plays! Understanding and promoting development for all young children through movement. Presented at the Summer Institute sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Education and Center for Early Education and Development is held at St John's University, Collegeville, MN.

Leitschuh, C.A. (2014, June). A monitoring tool of early movement: New tool, new perspective. Invited presentation at Oregon State University, Corvallis OR, Movement Study in Disability.

Leitschuh, C. A. (2014, June). A monitoring tool of early movement: New tool, new perspective. Invited presentation at University of Oregon, Center on Human Development.

Testimonials from Participants

  • My goal when enrolling in the class was to learn more about motor development, which to me really meant the milestones and how we build skills. I came away with much more than a few ages and stages, though I did get that information too. Now I have a greater appreciation for movement as an indicator and as a stepping stone to growth in all areas of development.
  • Thanks so much for the course. It gave me lots of good information and thinking material! The course was a sane place to be in a crazy fall!
  • I've loved the information in the lectures and readings and would have to place this course in the top three most valuable courses I've taken. Thank you for putting together this brilliant class.
  • The course has been a very engaging and renewing experience for me.  I've  enjoyed the make up of the class---the way the lectures and reading were constructed and the way the homework really was more an application than a recitation of learning. Thanks for the real learning experience.

Upcoming Sessions

  • Summer 2017 (six weeks): June 26 to August 7, 2017
  • Summer 2018 (six weeks): June 25 to August 6, 2018 (for clock hours only)

Related Resources


Contact Karen Anderson, CEED online course manager, at or 612-625-6617.

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Last modified on February 21, 2013.