High Scope - Central Concepts

Central Concepts

  • Active learning
The HighScope Curriculum emphasizes active participatory learning. Active learning means students have direct, hands-on experiences with people, objects, events, and ideas. Children's interests and choices are at the heart of the HighScope programs. They construct their own knowledge through interactions with the world and the people around them. In active learning settings, adults expand children's thinking with diverse materials and nurturing interactions.
  • Learning environment
A HighScope school classroom is divided into well-defined interest areas that typically include a house area, art area, block area, toy area, and other areas that reflect the children's interests. Children are able to access all facilities independently as well as take some responsibility for use of these areas.
  • Daily routine
HighScope classrooms follow a predictable sequence of events called the daily routine. The daily routine in a HighScope classroom includes plan-do-review, small- and large-group times, outside time, transition times, and eating and resting times.
  • Plan-do-review
A key component of the HighScope approach is the plan-do-review sequence. Children first plan what materials they want to work with, what they want to do, and whom they want to do it with (this can be done formally or informally in small groups). Once they have made a plan, however vague, of what they want to do, they can go and do it. Then, after this chosen worktime, the children discuss what they did and whether it was the same as, or different from, what they had planned.
  • Adult-child interaction
Shared control between adults and children is central to the HighScope Curriculum. In addition to sharing control, adults in a HighScope classroom participate in children's play, converse as partners with them, focus on children's strengths and offer them support, and encourage children's problem solving.
  • Key developmental indicators
The HighScope Curriculum is organized into eight content areas: (1) approaches to learning; (2) language, literacy, and communication; (3) social and emotional development; (4) physical development and health; (5) mathematics; (6) science and technology; (7) social studies; and (8) creative arts. Within these content areas are 58 key developmental indicators (KDIs). The KDIs are statements of observable behaviors that define the important learning areas for young children. HighScope teachers keep these indicators in mind when they set up the learning environment and plan activities.
  • Assessment
HighScope assesses children's development with comprehensive observations. HighScope teachers record daily anecdotes describing what children do and say. Several times a year, teachers review these anecdotes and rate each child using an assessment tool that is organized into six areas of development. These scores help the teachers design developmentally appropriate learning opportunities and can be used to explain children's progress during conferences.
  • Conflict Resolution
HighScope has a six-step process that can be used to help children resolve conflicts that may arise during their day.
Step 1. Approach the situation calmly.
Observe the situation, approach the children with a calm voice, and sit with them on the floor. Stop any hurtful behavior if necessary.
Step 2. Acknowledge children’s feelings.
Describe the feeling you observe and the details of what you see.
Step 3. Gather information.
Ask open-ended questions, directing your questions to one child, then another.
Step 4. Restate the problem.
Based on what the children say, clarify the problem and check your statement with the children.
Step 5. Ask for ideas for solutions and choose one together.
Encourage children to talk to each other. Be prepared to give suggestions. When children arrive at a solution, restate it and check with them to make sure they are in agreement.
Step 6. Be prepared to give follow-up support.
Sometimes solutions need clarifying as the children begin to play again.
(Hohmann, Weikart, & Epstein, 2008)

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