Reprinted with permission from the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. Please visit the High/Scope homepage for more information on this approach.
In what kinds of setting is the High/Scope preschool approach used?
The High/Scope preschool approach is used in both public and private half- and full-day preschools, nursery schools, Head Start programs, day care centers, home-based day care programs, and programs for children with special needs. Originally designed for low-income, "at-risk" children, the High/Scope approach is now used for the full range of children and has been successfully implemented in both urban and rural settings both in the U.S. and overseas.
How do children learn in a High/Scope "active learning" setting?
Since we believe that children learn best by pursuing their personal interests and goals, children in High/Scope settings are encouraged to make choices about materials and activities throughout the day. AS they pursue their choices and plans, children explore, ask and answer questions, solve problems, and interact with classmates and adults. In this kind of environment, children naturally engage in "key experiences"---activities that foster developmentally important skills and abilities. High/Scope has identified 58 key experiences in child development for the preschool years and a wide range of practical strategies for promoting these key experiences. The key experiences are grouped into 10 categories: creative representation, language and literacy, initiative and social relations, movement, music, classification, seriation, number, space, and time.
What does a High/Scope preschool setting look like?
The space, and materials in a High/Scope setting are carefully selected and arranged to promote active learning. The center is divided into interest areas organized around specific kinds of play. For example, a center might include separate areas for block play, art activities, house play, small toys, computers, books and writing materials, and sand and water play. In each area materials are organized so children can get them out easily and put them away independently. High/Scope does not recommend or endorse specific preschool equipment or materials, but instead provides general guidelines for selection.
How is the day organized in a High/Scope preschool?
High/Scope adults give children a sense of control over the events of the day by planning a consistent routine that enables children to anticipate what happens next. A central element of the day is the "plan-do-review sequence," in which children make a plan, carry it out, and then reflect on the results. The daily routine also includes times for small- and large-group experiences and time for outside play.
How do adults interact with children in a High/Scope preschool?
High/Scope teachers and caregivers are trained to participate as partners in children's activities rather than relate to children primarily as managers or supervisors. High/Scope training emphasizes positive interaction strategies: sharing control with children, focusing on children's strengths, forming authentic relationships with children, supporting children's play ideas, and adopting a problem-solving approach to social conflict.
How is assessment handled?
High/Scope teachers are trained to use the High/Scope Child Observation Record for Ages 2 --6 (COR) to evaluate children's developmental progress. As the basis for COR assessment teaching teams take daily anecdotal notes on children's developmentally significant behaviors during children's normal activities in the program. These notes are discussed during daily team planning sessions. Teachers use their anecdotal notes as the basis for completing the COR assessment instrument at regular intervals.
How does a High/Scope preschool program teach math and reading skills?
High/Scope preschool teachers not do not directly teach math, reading, writing and other academic skills through sequenced activities, drills, workbooks, or other "school-like" activities. Instead adults provide experiences and materials that help children develop the broad language and logical abilities that are the foundation for later academic learning. For example, to encourage children's beginning reading and writing skills, teachers create a print-rich environment and provide opportunities throughout the day for children to listen
to stories, explore books and other print materials, and work with writing tools and materials. To promote math abilities they provide materials that enable children to use beginning skills in counting, comparing numbers, and one-to-one correspondence. Teachers use the High/Scope key experiences in language and literacy and number to help them recognize and support the learning opportunities in these important pre-academic areas.
What about special needs children?
The High/Scope approach is used with special needs children in both self-contained and inclusive settings. High/Scope teachers approach children with special needs by emphasizing the broad cognitive, social, and physical abilities that are important for all children rather than by focusing on the child's deficits. High/Scope teachers identify where the special needs child is developmentally, and then provide a rich range of experiences that would be appropriate for a normally developing child at that level. For example, they would encourage a 4-year-old who is functioning at a 2-year-old's level to express his plans by pointing, gesturing, and saying single words and they would immerse the child in a conversational environment that provides many natural opportunities for using and hearing language.
Is High/Scope used in infant and toddler programs?
Because of the urgent need for day care, preschool programs are expanding to include younger and younger children. The High/Scope preschool approach has been successfully used in settings serving children from infancy through kindergarten age. Adults working with developmentally younger children use the High/Scope infant and toddler key experiences as a guide to providing appropriate experiences and materials for the younger age group.
How do High/Scope teachers handle discipline?
High/Scope teachers avoid using punishment and reward as tools for managing children's behavior. When behavior problems arise, they avoid isolating the child, instead encouraging the child to discuss the problem with the adult or with others involved. This problem-solving approach helps children develop social skills and become more aware of the impact of their actions on others.
Are art and music important parts of High/Scope programs?
Art and music are part of every day's activities in High/Scope programs. Art and music materials are available for children to use freely at work time in most High/Scope classrooms. Many of the small-group experiences planned by High/Scope teachers involve art materials; large-group experiences usually involve music. Adults use High/Scope's key experiences in creative representation and music to highlight ways they can support the important abilities children are developing in these areas.
Are computers a part of High/Scope preschool classrooms?
Computers are a recommended, but not required, part of High/Scope preschool programs. High/Scope teachers are trained to select high quality software that is appropriate for the preschool age group, to arrange computer equipment so that it is inviting and freely accessible to children, and to integrate the use of computers into the regular daily routine.
What is the relationship of High/Scope to Head Start?
High/Scope has played an important role in the national Head Start program. The High/Scope approach is used in many Head Start centers, and High/Scope has provided training, on a contractual basis, to many Head Start teachers, teacher-trainers, and administrators. High/Scope has been involved in several research studies evaluating various aspects of Head Start. High/Scope has also been a dedicated supporter of the national Head Start program, often providing information and testimony advocating the continuation of the program. Nevertheless, despite this close relationship, High/Scope as an organization is not a part of the National Head Start program. High/Scope's well known Perry Preschool Project, which is often mistakenly described as a study of Head Start, did not occur in a Head Start program.
What does research show about the effectiveness of the preschool approach?
The effectiveness of the High/Scope preschool approach has been documented in three decades of research. For more information on these studies go to High/Scope Research.