Our Curriculum

Active. Child-Focused. Proven.

The HighScope Curriculum has been proven over 50 years of practice and research. Positive outcomes for children have had an extraordinary impact long into the future. The rich history of the HighScope Foundation and their extensive research make the HighScope curriculum the best choice for high-quality early childhood education. For more detailed information, please visit HighScope.org.

What is the foundation of HighScope?

Active participatory learning – direct hands-on experience with people, objects, events, and ideas – is the foundation of the HighScope educational approach. Children in active learning classrooms “construct” their own knowledge through interactions with the world and the people around them. Teachers carefully design the environment and offer physical, emotional and intellectual support as children make choices and follow through on their plans.

What are the ingredients of active participatory learning?

Each classroom is designed to best support active learning by offering these five ingredients:

  • Abundant, high-quality materials.
  • Rich opportunities for manipulating these materials.
  • Children have a choice of what materials to use, how they use them, and with whom.
  • Children use language and thought to describe what they are doing and to reflect on their actions.
  • Teachers “scaffold” children’s learning by supporting their current level of thinking and challenging them to advance to the next stage.

What do children do in a HighScope classroom?

The daily routine is another foundational element of HighScope. Each day children engage in a variety of child-initiated and teacher-initiated learning opportunities as appropriate for their age and developmental level. Infants follow primarily their individual routine, with toddlers beginning to follow an informal routine, and preschoolers following a more formal daily routine. These six elements of a typical daily routine can be found in each classroom:

  • Small Group Time – Teachers plan Small Group Time to focus on specific foundational skills appropriate to their group. Each child is provided with their own set of materials and approaches the task as they are able. Small Group Time focuses primarily on literacy, math, fine motor, and creative ideas. Teachers provide individualized support and scaffolding during Small Group Time.
  • Large Group Time – Teachers plan Large Group Time to focus on movement, music, and drama with the whole classroom group. Well-coordinated motor skills are a key to academic success so Large Group Time provides opportunities to move with a purpose. Teachers may plan gross motor games, movements to music, singing, group storytelling or dramatization of nursery rhymes and short stories.
  • Planning and Reviewing – Before Work Time, children engage in Planning Time. During this time, they use a variety of strategies to think ahead and communicate to the teacher what they will do during Work Time. After Work Time, children pause for Review Time to discuss what they did and reflect on their experiences. Planning and reviewing help build a set of foundation skills critical to school success known as “executive function” or “critical thinking”.
  • Work Time – Children engage in self-directed play, grown from their own choices and plans, during Work Time. Because teachers have carefully designed the classroom environment, children can choose materials and decide what to do with them. This freedom is a very important part of fostering their interest and excitement about learning. Children explore materials using all their senses and their whole bodies. They transform and combine materials and use age-appropriate tools and equipment. They talk with their peers and with adults to build a foundation for organizing and understanding ideas.
  • Outside Time – Meaningful play outside is essential for children’s health and well-being. Outside Time has elements of child choice and teacher-initiated activities to create a balance of different types of play. Motor play, dramatic play, science investigations, group games, and rich social interactions all occur on the playground. If the playground is not available due to weather conditions, teachers plan activities for the gym.

What do teachers do in a HighScope classroom?

Teachers must know the children very well to carefully plan and design a stimulating classroom environment, planning and reviewing strategies to challenge children’s critical thinking, Small Group Times to promote the growth of academic skills, and Large Group Times to build foundational motor skills. In the classroom, teachers engage in the following ways:

  • Use Ohio’s Early Learning and Development Content Standards and HighScope Key Developmental Indicators to support the daily curriculum, design the environment, and interact with children.
  • Design the classroom environment with distinct and meaningful interest areas, provide interesting materials, plan and implement a consistent daily routine, and provide space and time for children to use the materials.
  • Listen to and observe children, to find out what they want to do and learn. Teachers act as play partners, showing interest in children’s ideas to strengthen their sense of initiative and control.
  • Listen for and encourage children’s thinking by conversing naturally as they play, focusing on their actions, making comments about what they are doing, and encouraging them to elaborate on their thoughts through self-discovery and reflection.
  • Encourage children to do things for themselves by teaching them problem-solving skills.

Are other curriculums used in addition to HighScope?

Yes! Our “Read It Once Again” (RIOA) curriculum, based on children’s literature, enhances the HighScope approach by providing a center-wide, monthly focus. RIOA provides literacy and math activities to help build foundational academic skills. Teachers use these activities throughout the classroom and the daily routine: games and puzzles available during Work Time, literacy and math activities for Small Group Time, and music and movement activities for Large Group Time. In addition, related children’s literature provides a rich literacy foundation throughout the day.