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Curriculum > Preschool > Why HighScope > For Teachers

HighScope for Teachers

As a teacher, your influence on children is significant. The experiences children have in their first classroom setting can shape their attitude about learning for the rest of their lives. That's why we have created resources and training that help support you so you can see the children you serve blossom and grow, and be excited about learning.

The HighScope Curriculum was designed as a result of extensive research that supports our belief that children learn best when they participate actively in the learning process. They discover things through direct experience with people, objects, events, and ideas.

HighScope teachers are as active and involved as children in the classroom. They thoughtfully provide materials, plan activities, and talk with children in ways that both support and challenge what children are observing and thinking. Activities are both child-initiated — built upon children’s natural curiosity — and developmentally appropriate, that is, matched to children’s current and emerging abilities. We call this approach active participatory learning — a process in which teachers and students are partners in shaping the learning experience.

Whenever you explore a new curriculum, you will have a lot of questions. When we talk to teachers, the most common questions we are asked about our curriculum are:

These are all legitimate questions, and here is what you can expect from HighScope.

What Will I Be Teaching?

For infant-toddler teachers, HighScope provides a comprehensive curriculum that addresses all areas of infant-toddler development. They include

  • Approaches to learning
  • Social and emotional development
  • Physical development and health
  • Communication, language, and literacy
  • Cognitive development
  • Creative arts

Within these six curriculum content areas are 42 key developmental indicators (KDIs). Each KDI is a statement that identifies an observable behavior reflecting a child's knowledge and skills in these six areas. For details on the KDIs, please go to our infant-toddler curriculum section.

For preschool teachers, you will also find a comprehensive curriculum that addresses all areas of development. Eight main curriculum content areas organize children's learning in preschool. The content categories are

  • Approaches to learning
  • Social and emotional development
  • Physical development and health
  • Language, literacy, and communication
  • Mathematics
  • Creative arts
  • Science and technology
  • Social studies

Within these areas are the 58 key developmental indicators (KDIs), which are early childhood milestones that guide you as you plan and assess learning experiences and interact with children to support learning.

Each KDI identifies a child behavior reflecting specific knowledge or skills in one of the eight content areas. Use this link to find a complete list of the KDIs. To learn more about HighScope’s Preschool Curriculum, please go to our Preschool Curriculum Section.

Does the HighScope Curriculum Meet State Standards?

Today most state standards involve preschool programs, and HighScope’s Preschool Curriculum meets all the state standards that have been published. As more infant-toddler programs become state funded and standards are established, we will map our curriculum to those standards as well. See how our curriculum meets your state standards.  You will also find mapping to standards for Special and Head Start Standards.

How Can HighScope Help Me to Effectively Teach This Content?

Both the HighScope Infant-Toddler and Preschool Curriculum include specific teaching practices that enable you to create effective early childhood programs. These practices are discussed in detail in HighScope training and publications.

In HighScope infant-toddler programs, you support children's natural desire to be active learners. Creating an active learning environment for infants and toddlers means consciously considering all their needs —  social and emotional, physical, cognitive, and sociolinguistic.

The principles of active learning guide decisions you make about

In HighScope preschool classrooms, there are three areas that are particularly important for strengthening your program — adult-child interaction, classroom layout and materials, and the daily routine. Adult-child interaction is the process of working alongside children and communicating with them both verbally and nonverbally to encourage learning. A key HighScope strategy for adult-child interaction is sharing control with children. Additional strategies include supporting children's play, using encouragement instead of praise, and taking a problem-solving approach to conflict. The preschool classroom in HighScope settings is divided into interest areas stocked with a stimulating range of materials designed for specific types of play, for example, house area, art area, block area, small toy area, computer area, reading and writing area. Materials are arranged in consistent places and the shelves are tagged with child-friendly labels so that children can get out and put away materials themselves. Organizing the classroom in this way also helps children understand how the world is organized, and concepts such as more, less, same, different, large, small, in, out, in front of, etc.

The daily routine in HighScope programs is a consistent framework for the day that provides a balanced variety of experiences and learning opportunities. Children engage in both individual and social play, participate in small- and large- group activities, assist with cleanup, socialize during meals, develop self-care skills, and exercise their small and large muscles. The most important segment of the daily routine is the plan-do-review sequence, in which children make choices about what they will do, carry out their ideas, and reflect upon their activities with adults and other children.

Through our materials and training, we provide you with a great deal of information that will provide support to you as you teach every day.

How Does Your Curriculum Work? Do I Get a Kit? Or Does it Come in Monthly Shipments?

HighScope is not a “curriculum in a box,” nor do we send you monthly materials. It is not designed to tell you, the teacher, what to do and what to say on every day of the month. Our curriculum is designed to give you the flexibility you need to develop your lesson plans around children’s interests, keeping in mind where each child is developmentally, and taking into account the cultural/ethnic mix of the children you serve as well as geographic considerations.

We know that every preschool is unique, and that every preschool brings to the HighScope Curriculum its own set of strengths and challenges. That’s why we try to work with you and your program to choose the materials and training that will best meet your needs. Unlike other organizations in the field of early childhood education, HighScope isn’t a commercial enterprise. It’s a nonprofit organization — motivated not by money, but by mission. Where our competitors see customers, we see colleagues and collaborators. That’s why we offer so much more than off-the-shelf “learning products.”

Does HighScope Work With Children With Special Needs?

Absolutely! While current teaching practices in the field of special education are often based on correcting children’s “deficits,” the HighScope Curriculum builds on and maximizes their strengths and abilities, recognizing each child’s individual needs and developmental differences. HighScope is not a one-size-fits-all approach but rather a model in which all children fit.

Children with special needs benefit from the core principles of HighScope’s participatory learning approach, in which young children actively construct their knowledge of the world through their interaction with people, events, materials , and ideas. You and the other supportive adults in the classroom and at home are partners in this learning experience, creating a climate in which children become trusting and independent. And, they learn the social skills that will help them to succeed as they move into elementary school.

What Support Will You Provide If I Have Problems Later?

We have always tried to be much more than just a source of materials and training for early childhood professionals. As a not-for-profit organization, our main concern has been to help programs achieve their goal of a high-quality program with positive child outcomes. We have made available a number of resources to help you succeed in using the HighScope Curriculum.

We offer a full range of professional development, including online courses. View our Training Schedule. Through a free membership in our HighScope Membership Association, you can have access to a wide variety of useful resources, including the Extensions newsletter and valuable articles published in our ReSource magazine (including all the back issues). Members also have free access to our full online library of Web clips, brief videos of teachers supporting children’s learning in various content areas. You’ll also receive discounts on specific products and training. Visit our Membership page.

You can participate in forums and keep in touch with other educators by using HighScope through Facebook and Twitter.

Plus, if you have an issue you need help with, just write us through our [email protected] mailbox and we will either get you the answer you need or connect you with someone who can provide this information.

Look at us as a partner in your journey toward a high-quality program with positive child outcomes. We are here to help.


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