Step 4 – High Scope (The core of our curriculum)
The foundation of our curriculum at 2000 Days is HighScope. Let’s take a more in-depth look at HighScope and then watch some training videos.
What is the HighScope Curriculum?
HighScope’s educational approach 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 HighScope programs. They construct their own knowledge through interactions with the world and the people around them. Children take the first step in the learning process by making choices and following through on their plans and decisions. Teachers, caregivers, and parents offer physical, emotional, and intellectual support. In active learning settings, adults expand children’s thinking with diverse materials and nurturing interactions.Throughscaffolding, adults help children gain knowledge and develop creative problem-solving skills.
HighScope uses the term scaffolding to describe the process whereby adults support and gently extend children’s thinking and reasoning. Scaffolding is a term introduced by developmental psychologist Jerome Bruner and is based on the work of psychologist Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky referred to the zone of proximal development as the area between what children can accomplish on their own and what they can do with the help of an adult or another child who is more developmentally advanced. HighScope teachers carefully observe children so they know when and how to enter this zone. Children must be secure and confident in what they already know before they are ready to move to the next level. When HighScope says adults support and extend children’s learning, it means that the adults first validate, or support, what children already know, and then, when the time is right, gently encourage them to extend their thinking to the next level.
How does the HighScope approach differ from other early childhood programs?
The HighScope educational approach is consistent with the best practices recommended by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Head Start Program Performance Standards, and other guidelines for developmentally based programs.
Within this broad framework, however, HighScope has unique features that differentiate it from other early childhood programs. One is the daily plan-do-review sequence. Research shows that planning and reviewing are the two components of the program day most positively and significantly associated with children’s scores on measures of developmental progress.
A second unique feature is our curriculum content, the social, intellectual, and physical building blocks that are essential to young children’s optimal growth. Our content areas are organized in eight main categories that correspond to state and national learning standards; the categories are (1) Approaches to Learning; (2) Social and Emotional Development; (3) Physical Development and Health; (4) Language, Literacy, and Communication; (5) Mathematics; (6) Creative Arts; (7) Science and Technology; and (8) Social Studies.
Within these preschool 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 environment and plan activities to encourage learning and social interaction. They also form the basis of HighScope’s child assessment tool, called COR Advantage.
What are HighScope’s goals for young children?
HighScope is a comprehensive educational approach that strives to help children develop in all areas. Our goals for young children are:
- To learn through active involvement with people, materials, events, and ideas
- To become independent, responsible, and confident — ready for school and ready for life
- To learn to plan many of their own activities, carry them out, and talk with others about what they have done and what they have learned
- To gain knowledge and skills in important academic, social, and physical areas
HighScope provides children with carefully planned experiences in reading, mathematics, and science. For example, curriculum materials and staff development in the area of literacy are compatible with the latest findings from research and practice. Our key developmental indicators in mathematics and our COR Advantage assessment items are aligned with the early childhood standards of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics.
Social development is another important learning area in HighScope programs. Studies continually demonstrate that children in HighScope classrooms show high levels of initiative. Teachers further support social development by helping children learn how to resolve interpersonal conflicts. The National Institute for Child Health and Human Development stresses that all these areas of academic and socio-emotional growth are essential for school readiness.
What is the evidence that the HighScope approach works?
More than 40 years of research shows that HighScope programs advance the development of children and improve their chance of living a better life through adulthood. National research with children from different backgrounds has shown that those who attend HighScope programs score higher on measures of development than similar children enrolled in other preschool and child care programs.
HighScope is perhaps best known for the HighScope Perry Preschool Project study, which compared low-income children who attended our program with those who did not. As adults, preschool participants had higher high school graduation rates, higher monthly earnings, less use of welfare, and fewer arrests than those without the program. In addition to benefiting the individuals who attended preschool, these results show that preschool leads to savings for taxpayers: for every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education, society saves $13 in the cost of special education, public assistance, unemployment benefits, and crime. Research also shows that HighScope training with teachers and caregivers is highly effective. In a national study, teachers with HighScope training had higher quality programs than did similar teachers without such training. Higher quality programs were in turn linked to better developmental outcomes for children.
Please watch each video in order so you can learn each component of HighScope. Click on the first video and then once it starts playing click on the bottom right corner for full screen. Then go to the next video in the series.