What Is HighScope?

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.