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Program Summary

Active Learning — The Core of Our Educational Philosophy

The HighScope Demonstration Preschool uses the HighScope Preschool Curriculum as the basis for its daily program. This approach emphasizes children's active learning. Children's interests and choices are at the heart of the program. Adults support early development by observing, understanding, and encouraging what children do. They provide children with a wide array of materials and plan experiences that build on children's interests and extend their learning. 
  • Teaching practices. The curriculum model is based on the latest child development research and grounded in decades of practical experience. The HighScope approach provides teachers with a framework for organizing the learning environment, creating a consistent daily schedule, and interacting with children in a warm and supportive manner. Through this framework, the program provides children with a consistent and secure daily routine that promises interesting things to do, offers individualized attention from teachers, and gives children a sense of control over themselves and their environment.
  • Learning experiences. Teachers plan experiences and interact with children in ways that support their independent thinking, initiative, and creativity. Young children's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical capacities develop quickly when they can use materials freely and exercise their imaginations. The HighScope learning environment promotes investigation, decision making, cooperation, persistence, and problem solving. Children use these capacities daily in the preschool classroom as well as at home. They develop the essential skills they will carry into their later school years and into adulthood. 
  • Support for Parents. Many of the activities that HighScope teachers do in the classroom can also be done at home. HighScope teachers help parents learn to listen to, talk to, and play with their children in ways that nurture their development. As parents visit their child's preschool and teachers visits the child's home, parents and teachers learn from one another and become partners in promoting children's growth and development. 
HighScope goals for young children.
  • To become independent, responsible, and confident — ready for school and ready for life.
  • To learn through active involvement with people, materials, events, and ideas.
  • To learn to plan many of their own activities, carry them out, and talk with other children and their teacher about what they have done and what they have learned.
  • To gain knowledge and skills in important academic, social-emotional, and physical areas of development including: language and literacy; logical thinking in the areas of number, classification, seriation, space, and time; initiative and social relations; creative representation (visual and dramatic arts); and movement and music.
The HighScope approach to preschool education is a unique process that has been tested and researched since 1962. Our approach incorporates five elements based on sound developmental practices for children and effective program management strategies for adults.

Active learning. 
Children are involved in direct, hands-on experiences with people, objects, ideas, and events. They carry out their intentions by actively engaging with materials and interacting with peers and adults. Teachers plan around 58 key developmental indicators in child development that strengthen children's emerging intellectual, physical, social, and emotional abilities.

Adult-child interaction.  
Teachers establish a safe and nurturing classroom environment where children can be happy and busy pursuing their interests. Adults observe and interact with children at their level to discover how each child thinks and reasons. They support children's initiatives and developing abilities. Adults share control of all learning experiences with children. They encourage children to solve problems with materials, turn to one another for help, collaborate in creative activities, and learn how to resolve conflicts with one another through negotiation.

Learning environment.  
Classroom furniture and equipment are arranged and labeled in several clearly defined interest areas. This organization allows children to independently find, use, and return the materials they need to carry out their chosen activities. The arrangement of the classroom and its materials helps children form concepts about how the world is organized. The labels and symbols form the foundation for children's emerging reading, writing, and number skills. Children also spend time outside every day experiencing all the physical and sensory properties of the natural environment. Taken together, the indoor and outdoor environments provide children with the full range of learning settings and experiences.

Daily routine.    
Each day follows a similar schedule of events, providing consistency for both children and adults. A daily plan-do-review process is at the core of the HighScope routine. This sequence gives children the opportunity to make plans based on their own interests, follow through on their intentions, and reflect on their experiences with peers and adults. Large- and small-group experiences are also part of the daily routine along with the social interaction of sharing a snack and the invigoration of being outdoors. See below for a summary of the routine.

HighScope teachers regularly record notes on children's behaviors, experiences, and interests. They use these notes to assess each child's development using the HighScope Preschool Child Observation Record. Based on these careful and objective observations, adults can plan experiences that will facilitate children's growth and development. They also use these notes in parent meetings to help parents better understand their children's development and how they can extend classroom learning at home. To guarantee the continued high quality of the classroom environment, teachers and staff supervisors regular assess themselves using the HighScope Preschool Program Quality Assessment.

Teachers at the HighScope Demonstration Preschool have at least a four-year college degree in early childhood education or a related field. They are also certified in CPR and first aid. In addition, the teaching team has received extensive training in the HighScope educational approach. Teachers receive ongoing supervision and support from a HighScope staff consultant. They also benefit from the assistance and support of staff in the Foundation's other divisions and departments: Early Childhood, Research, Educational Services, Publications, and Administration. HighScope teachers participate in regular professional development activities throughout the calendar year. These activities are scheduled to minimize their absence from the classroom. If a teacher is absent for professional or personal reasons, HighScope has a regular substitute teacher. The substitute has also received specialized training in the HighScope educational approach and is a familiar figure to the children.

Class size and adult-child ratio.  
The HighScope Demonstration Preschool follows the recommendations of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) regarding class size and adult-child ratio for preschool children. Class size is 16 children. There are two full-time teachers in the classroom for a ratio of one adult per 8 children.


Typical daily schedule at the Demonstration Preschool.
While each preschool, center, or home program organizes its schedule to meet the needs of the children and families it serves, the daily routine segments presented here are the basic "building blocks" of a HighScope daily routine in any setting. Visitors to the Demonstration Preschool will see a schedule of events that is consistent from day to day.

Greeting Time (15–20 minutes)
Greeting time provides a smooth transition from home to school and gives children and adults a chance to share important information for the day.

Planning Time (10 minutes)
Children indicate what they choose to do during work time (typically what they will do first). Adults try to understand children's plans and often try to help children extend their plans.

Work Time (45 minutes–1 hour)
Children carry out their initial and subsequent plans. Children can work with any of the materials in any of the interest areas. Adults observe children and look for opportunities to enter into children's activities to encourage their thinking, extend their play, and help them wrestle with problem-solving situations.

Cleanup (10 minutes)
Children and adults together return materials and equipment to their storage spaces and, when appropriate, put away or find display space for their personal creations.

Recall Time (10 minutes)
Recall brings closure to the plan-­work­-recall sequence. Children reflect on, talk about, and/or show what they have done at work time.

Snack or Meal Times (20 minutes)
Children and adults share nutritious food and interesting conversation together in a relaxed, family-style manner.

Large-Group Time (10–15 minutes)
Children and adults get together to play games, tell and reenact stories, sing songs, do finger-plays, dance, play musical instruments, or reenact special events. This time is an opportunity for each child to participate in a large group, sharing ideas and learning from the ideas of others.

Small-Group Time (15–20 minutes)
Each adult meets with a consistent small group of children to work with materials planned and introduced by the adult. Although the adult chooses and introduces the materials, each child has control over what he or she will do with these materials.

Outside Time (30 minutes)
Children engage in vigorous, noisy outdoor play. Adults participate in and support children's play in the outdoor setting. 





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