Together, Our Future is Bright!
Parents are children's first teachers, and it's impossible to overestimate the important ongoing role that family plays in a child's learning and development. Just as children engage in active learning throughout the preschool daily routine, family members can incorporate active learning into different parts of the day at home.
At HighScope we have been studying young children and how they learn for over 50 years. The knowledge we took from the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, and from our extensive experience working with children and teachers, has evolved over the years into what is now the HighScope Curriculum.
Research indicates that the way adults interact with children plays a very important role in children's learning and development. These studies demonstrate that in classrooms where teachers are responsive, guiding, and nurturing — and where they share control — children take more initiative and are more likely to be actively involved and persistent in their work. Below are interaction strategies that promote active learning and shared control at home.
- Share control with your child and participate in their play. Look for natural openings in their play and let the child take the lead.
- Focus on your child's strengths and use encouragement instead of praise. Offer your child choices based on what he or she likes to do and does well. Rather than using statements that evaluate or judge, make objective, specific comments that encourage children to expand their language and think about what they are doing.
- Encourage your child to solve problems he or she encounters. While adults could often solve the problem more easily by taking over, the goal is for children to develop their own problem-solving abilities through trial and error.
- Converse with your child as partners. Join in the conversation on your child's physical level. Stick to the topic your child brings up and allow them time to respond.
Helping children manage frustrations and resolve social conflicts is an area of social learning that is often particularly important to teachers and parents alike. HighScope's six-step conflict resolution process, summarized below, helps children peacefully settle disputes and conflicts. With continuity between home and the classroom, children can often carry out this sequence on their own by program's end.
- Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions. Place yourself between the children, on their level.
- Acknowledge children's feelings. Say something simple such as "You look really upset." Let children know you need to hold any object in question.
- Gather information. Ask "What's the problem?" Do not ask "Why?" questions.
- Restate the problem. "So the problem is…"
- Ask for ideas for solutions and choose one together. "What can we do to solve this problem?"
- Be prepared to give follow-up support. Acknowledge their accomplishments (e.g., "You solved the problem!"). Stay nearby in case anyone is not happy with the solution and the process needs repeating.
To explore more, visit our store for the You're Not My Friend Anymore! book.
Strategies for Play
Early childhood educators often make the point that "children learn through play." But what does this statement really mean? Play helps young children develop cognitive skills — organization, focus, and the ability to plan, strategize, and prioritize — which are all part of what we call executive function. Unfortunately, due to the demands for accountability in public schools and pressure to accelerate young children's academic learning, time for play is either being eliminated or limited, and play is much less often child-initiated or free from constraints.
- Materials — Provide materials that your child can use in a variety of ways. Learning grows out of the child's direct actions on the materials.
- Manipulation — The child should have opportunities to explore (with all the senses), manipulate, combine, and transform the chosen materials.
- Choice — The child chooses what to do. Since learning results from the child's attempts to pursue personal interests and goals, the opportunity to choose activities and materials is essential.
- Child communication, language, and thought — The child communicates his or her needs, feelings, discoveries, and ideas through motions, gestures, facial expressions, and sounds. Adults should encourage the child's communications and language in a give-and-take manner.
- Adult Scaffolding — Adults establish and maintain trusting relationships with each child in their care. They should recognize and encourage each child's intentions, actions, communications, explorations, creativity, and willingness to solve problems.
- Look for natural play openings.
- Join play on the child's level by squatting, kneeling, or lying on the floor.
- Participate in parallel play by playing near the child, using the same materials in the same manner.
- Play as a partner with children by functioning as an equal or follower.
- Refer players to one another. This allows children to recognize one another's strengths, regard each other as a valuable resource, and play cooperatively.
- Suggest new ideas within ongoing play situations. Offer suggestions within the play theme, address the "role person" rather than the child, and respect the children's reaction to your idea.
To explore more, download Play: An Important Tool for Cognitive Development, or visit our store for the Something From Nothing: Using Everyday Materials With Preschoolers book.
All teachers know that learning doesn't have to end when children leave child care for the day! The 30 infant-toddler activities in this book are designed to help children and their families keep active participatory learning going at home as well. You can offer family members copies of these activities, along with tip sheets and how-to instructions at parent meetings, pick up or drop off times, or during other interactions.
Parents and children will have a blast with the fun, varied games and projects in this book — activities that align with key areas of child development in HighScope’s approach. Also available in Spanish.
English P1429 $30.00
Spanish P1430 $30.00
Boys often experience preschool differently from girls. This popular book covers the latest research on boys’ experiences and needs in early childhood. It has valuable tips for activities, teaching strategies for social-emotional and cognitive development, and solutions to common challenges.