Infant-Toddler Curriculum

Developing supportive, trusting relationships with children.

How We Teach

Your youngest learners need to feel safe and supported so they can learn with their whole body and all of their senses. In a HighScope infant and toddler program, teachers focus on developing supportive, trusting relationships with the children in their care. We create rich environments that encourage very young children to explore and discover the world around them, helping them to engage in experiences designed to support their optimal development in all domains.

At HighScope we value and respect parents as their children’s first teachers. That’s why we encourage teachers to partner with parents in learning everything they can about their infants and toddlers to better care for their needs and plan for their development. As a result, our programs create a strong three-way bond between child, parent, and caregiver.

Active learning is at the center of the HighScope Curriculum. It’s the foundation where young children gain knowledge through their natural play and interactions with the environment, events, and other people.

Wheel of Learning for Infants and Toddlers

Adult-Child Interaction

Nurturing, responsive teachers practice primary caregiving and continuity of care by scaffolding the individual needs and temperaments of infants and toddlers. Key strategies for adult-child interactions are touching, holding, playing alongside infants and toddlers at their level and pace, communicating in give-and-take exchanges verbally and nonverbally, respecting children’s choices and encouraging their efforts, acknowledging children’s strong emotions, and involving toddlers in resolving conflicts.

Learning Environment

The physical space is safe, flexible, and child oriented to provide comfort and accommodate the changing developmental needs and interests of the earliest learners. The space is organized into play and care areas that serve the needs of infants and toddlers and stocked with a variety of sensory-motor materials that infants and toddlers can reach, explore, and play with in their own way at their own pace. With nurturing and responsive caregivers as a home base, infants and toddlers are free to move about, explore materials, exercise creativity, and solve problems.

Schedules and Routines

A consistent yet flexible routine that accommodates individual children’s natural rhythms and temperaments gives infants and toddlers a sense of security and stability that creates trust between the child and teacher and builds independence as children engage with their environment and the people around them. Each routine is built around daily events and caregiving routines that value infants’ and toddlers’ active learning.

Observation

Ongoing child and program assessment is an underlying component of the HighScope Curriculum. Objective observations of children allow teachers to intentionally plan to build on individual and group interests and scaffold development by supporting what children know while gently extending their learning.

What We Teach

Grounded in current child development theory and research, the HighScope Infant-Toddler Curriculum is evidence-based. Our framework for understanding and supporting infants’ and toddlers’ learning from birth to age three is based on 42 key developmental indicators (KDIs) which align with national and state early learning guidelines and the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.

In the HighScope Infant-Toddler Curriculum, learning is focused on these six content areas:

  • Approaches to Learning
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development and Health
  • Communication, Language, and Literacy
  • Cognitive Development
  • Creative Arts

Infant-Toddler Curriculum Content

Early learning and development in these six content areas is guided by 42 key developmental indicators (KDIs) — the skills and behaviors at each stage of development that pave the way for school and adult success. Each KDI is connected to and reinforced by scaffolding strategies to help teachers appropriately support and gently extend children’s learning.

The HighScope key developmental indicators

  • Provide teachers with a child development “filter” for observing and choosing appropriate interactions and activities
  • Help teachers interpret what young children say and do along a developmental continuum
  • Enable teachers to maintain reasonable expectations for young children
  • Reinforce children’s play as the primary mechanism for learning
  • Allow teachers to be more knowledgeable and intentional in their daily planning for individual children and the class

Professional Support

Resources

Our comprehensive curriculum contains the resources teachers need to create an active learning classroom environment, from foundational books to supplemental classroom activities, family engagement resources, and more. Curriculum site kits support administrators with program assessment tools, training DVDs, curriculum manuals, and more.

Professional Learning

HighScope prepares you to implement with confidence and success. We offer responsive professional learning for teachers and the administrators who support them. Courses are designed to provide thorough training for teams at all levels and every professional learning experience offers inspiring ideas and strategies that you can immediately put to use in your program.

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