HighScope

About High / Scope

Practical summaries of High/Scope’s history, educational approach, and curriculum
High/Scope is an “active participatory learning” approach to educating children from birth to young adulthood. Developed in 1962 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, the High/Scope approach is now used in tens of thousands of half- and full-day preschools, nursery schools, Head Start programs, prekindergarten programs, child care centers, home-based child care programs, and programs for children with special needs in the United States and around the world. Children and families from many racial, national, religious, and financial backgrounds participate in High/Scope programs. The High/Scope approach blends the knowledge of Jean Piaget with practical teaching experience in the classroom and other educational settings. (Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist who studied how infants and children learn and develop.) Long-term studies show the High/Scope approach promotes the healthy development of children and provides long-lasting benefits throughout adulthood. Read More ....  

The High/Scope Educational Research Foundation is an independent, not- for-profit organization headquartered in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The Foundation promotes the development of children and youth worldwide and supports educators and parents as they help children learn.

High/Scope:

  • Develops curriculum (a body of thought about child development, teaching practices, staff training methods, and assessment)

  • Trains teachers and administrators

  • Conducts research on education and interprets and publishes what it discovers

  • Provides information to decision makers on programs and policies that benefit children and youth

  • Publishes educational books, DVDs/videos, and other materials

    High/Scope has a staff of approximately 50 individuals who are professionally trained in educational practice and administration, child development, research, public policy (the guiding principles that influence the formation of public laws), and communication. High/Scope’s Board of Directors bring to the Foundation their knowledge and experience in education, human services, health, program management, publishing, government, charitable works, and other fields. Read More .... 

The space and materials in a High/Scope setting are carefully chosen and arranged to promote active learning (direct, hands-on experiences with people, objects, events, and ideas). Although we do not endorse specific types or brands of toys and equipment, High/Scope does provide general guidelines and recommendations for selecting materials that will be meaningful and interesting to children. We keep the following questions in mind when we arrange the setting and stock it with learning materials. Read More .... 

Active participatory learning — direct, hands-on experiences with people, objects, events, and ideas — is the cornerstone of the High/Scope approach to educating children. Children in active learning settings “construct” their own knowledge through their interactions with the world and the people around them. They take the first step in the learning process by making choices and following through on their own plans and decisions. Teachers and parents offer physical, emotional, and intellectual support. They also extend and expand children’s learning by providing interesting materials and thoughtful, warm interactions. Read More .... 

In a High/Scope setting, teachers and other staff and volunteers interact with children by sharing control with them; focusing on their strengths; forming genuine relationships with them; supporting their play ideas; and by using a problem-solving approach to resolving conflicts in the classroom, lunchroom, or on the playground. We are trained to participate in children’s activities primarily as partners rather than as managers or supervisors. We respect children and their choices, and encourage their initiative, independence, and creativity. We also understand how children learn and plan the kinds of experiences children need in order to grow in all areas of development. In this supportive atmosphere, children can work and play with people and materials with curiosity, deliberation, and confidence. Read More .... 

In a High/Scope setting, we organize classroom and playground time into a daily routine, just as we organize classroom space into interest areas. The day’s events determine how we’ll use the classroom or playground space and what types of interactions children will experience. This predictable daily sequence of events, in which children can make plans and anticipate what will happen next, gives them a sense of control and a feeling of confidence. The daily routine also helps us organize time in ways that offer them interesting and challenging learning experiences. Read More ....  

The High/Scope plan-do-review process is at the center of High/Scope’s approach to educating children. As children organize their intentions (make plans), carry them out, and reflect on what they have done, they learn how to become involved in the world around them, either through their own actions or through cooperation with adults and other children. They also realize they are able thinkers who can make decisions, solve problems, and get things done. As children gain experience with this process, their language becomes increasingly detailed and complex, their vocabularies grow as they convey what they are learning, and they become confident communicators. These are language and literacy skills they will need when entering the early elementary school grades.

The plan-do-review process helps children become self-confident and develop a sense of purpose. When children plan and follow through with their plans, they learn to rely on their abilities to make choices and to set the direction for their learning. They also develop the ability to express their choices and decisions to others. In addition, we have found that children tend to concentrate for longer periods of time when they are involved in activities they have chosen for themselves. The plan-do-review process also encourages children to form a mental picture of their experiences and put what they have experienced into words. Reflecting on and sharing these experiences with others helps to lock them in memory. Recalling the lessons they learned in the past helps children associate cause and effect and become more responsible for their actions. Read More .... 

High/Scope has identified 58 key developmental indicators (KDIs), which are behaviors that define the important learning areas for young children. The KDIs are organized into five categories: approaches to learning; language, literacy, and communication; social and emotional development; physical development, health, and well-being; and arts and sciences (which includes mathematics, science and technology, social studies, and the arts). Children must encounter each of these KDIs many times in their early years if they are to master the ideas (concepts) involved. In High/Scope settings, we keep these KDIs in mind as we set up the learning environment, support children in their play, encourage them to interact in groups, and plan learning experiences. Read More .... 

Conflict is inevitable during the course of children’s play. When something gets in their way — another child wants the same toy or a group of children disagree on how to play or who gets to play — children become frustrated and angry. This does not mean they are being bad, selfish, or mean. They simply have not yet learned how to interpret social cues (facial expressions, tone of voice, body movements), understand other viewpoints, or match their behavior to the situation.

High/Scope teachers understand that children need help learning how to work out their disagreements together. In fact, we view conflicts as valuable learning opportunities through which we can help children develop social skills and become more aware of the impact their actions have on others.

Rather than punishing or rewarding children to influence their behavior, we use a six-step approach to problem solving and con- flict resolution. Read More .... 

High/Scope believes that program quality depends on a good evaluation system. Teachers need a way to record the progress of individual children in their programs so they can provide the best learning opportunities for the group as a whole. Similarly, agencies and program supervisors need an organized and fair way to evaluate every aspect of their programs so they can meet the needs of their children, families, and child care staff. At the preschool level, High/Scope has developed two tools to help meet these needs: the Preschool Child Observation Record (COR) to record children’s progress, and the Preschool Program Quality Assessment (PQA) to evaluate programs. Both measures are used in all High/Scope programs, as well as in other programs throughout the country and around the world, to assess (measure or evaluate) child progress and program quality. Read More .... 

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