What is HighScope?

HighScope is a high quality approach to learning based on more than 40 years of longitudinal research and practice. It is a coherent curriculum which draws on the constructivist theories of Piaget, Dewey, Erikson, Vygotsky and others. HighScope was developed by Dr. David Weikart in 1962 in Ipsilanti, Michigan USA and is now used in over 90 countries around the world. It is a flexible framework and can be used across all settings, ages and abilities.


The Principles of the Approach

The central principles of HighScope are provision of a developmentally appropriate curriculum, consistency and genuine relationships that offer children the opportunities for active learning and personal initiative. These principles guide all HighScope practitioners in their daily work. Their work is informed by working closely with parents and carers based on the principle of family inclusion and the unique culture of the child. Adults in HighScope settings encourage children to become decision makers and problem solvers who can plan, initiate and reflect on work chosen by themselves; who work effectively individually, with other children, and with adults, and who develop skills and who develop skills and traits which enable them to become successful students as they grow older.


The following diagram graphically describes the key principles of the HighScope approach.


Active Learning

Through active learning - having direct and immediate experiences and developing an understanding of them through reflection, children construct knowledge that helps them make sense of their world.


The power of active learning comes from personal initiative when the children act on their innate desire to explore, solve problems and generate strategies to try in play and work which is meaningful to them.


The Key Experiences

The HighScope Developmental indicators provide a composite

picture of children’s social, cognitive and physical development.

They are fundamental to young children’s construction of knowledge and take place repeatedly over an extended period of time.

When active learning is in place, key experiences occur naturally; the role of the adult is to create an environment in which these developmentally important activities can occur and to recognize,support and build on them when they do. Practitioners regularly make anecdotal observations on children’s learning experiences and this forms the basis for planning and evaluating.


Adult Child Interaction

Active learning depends on positive adult child interaction guided by an understanding of how children think and reason, adults practice positive interaction strategies - sharing control with children, focusing on children’s strengths, forming authentic relationships with children, supporting play, adopting a problem solving approach to social conflict and using encouragement rather than a child management system based on praise, punishment and reward.

The relationship with children has long term as well as immediate benefits as it demonstrates children how to form positive relationships for themselves.


Learning Environment and the Daily Routine

The HighScope Approach places a strong emphasis on planning the layout of the setting and selecting appropriate materials to enable children to make and follow through on their choices and decisions. These will be a mix of real, open ended, ‘free and found and commercial materials. Adults also plan a consistent routine that supports active learning. The routine enables children to anticipate what will happen next and gives them a great deal of control over what they do during each part of their day. The framework gives children the freedom to become confident, self-directed learners.


The Plan-Do-Review Process

Planning is a process in which children learn to create and express intentions in a group or individually, and supported by an adult, children plan what they wish to do. Children's planning becomes increasingly sophisticated as they become conversant with the process.


At work time children generate experiences based upon their plans. Children need time for trial and error, to generate new ideas, practise and succeed. Personal independence is the Key to active learning by self-motivating children. During review time children reflect on their experiences at play and work.

A high quality curriculum will provide occasion for children to reflect on their experiences with increasing verbal ability an logic as they mature.


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Child Observation Record (COR Advantage)

ABC uses HighScope’s Child Observation Record, or COR,

as an authentic, validated, and research-based observational assessment tool.


The COR comprises 63 dimensions of learning in nine categories:


● Approaches to Learning

● Social and Emotional Development

● Physical Development & Health

● Language, Literacy, & Communication

● Mathematics

● Creative Arts

● Science and Technology

● Social Studies

● English Language Learners (Optional)


To use the COR, teaching staff take anecdotal notes during

the everyday program activities. COR assessment is then

seamlessly integrated with early childhood teaching and planning.


The results provide detailed information on each child's development, as well as a variety of group reports analyzing progress for various audiences.