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HighScope Preschool Curriculum

— HighScope Educational Research Foundation
Updated on Sep 1, 2009

The High/Scope® Preschool Curriculum is the preschool component of High/Scope's research-based system of education for the preschool and infant-toddler years. The curriculum has a set of teaching practices for adults, content areas for children, assessment tools to measure teaching behaviors and children's progress, and a training model to help adults use the curriculum to support children's development.

Active Learning. The curriculum is based on the belief that children learn best through "active learning," direct, hands-on experiences with people, objects, events, and ideas. Children are encouraged to "construct" their own knowledge by pursuing their personal interests and goals, guided by trained adults who understand the important learning areas for children in the preschool years. Active learning is central to all the activities in the program, whether planned by adults or initiated by children.

Classroom Arrangement, Materials, and Equipment. The space and materials in a High/Scope® setting are carefully selected and arranged to promote active learning. The center is divided into "interest areas" organized around specific kinds of play, for example, block area, house area, small toy area, book area, sand-and-water area, art area.

Daily Routine. High/Scope® teachers give children a sense of control over the events of the day by planning a consistent daily routine that enables children to anticipate what happens next. A central element of the preschool daily routine is the "plan-do-review sequence"; other key elements are small- and large-group times, greeting time, and outside time.

Preschool Curriculum Content. In a High/Scope setting, children explore, ask and answer questions, solve problems, and interact with classmates and adults as they pursue their choices and plans. During this process they engage in teacher- and child-initiated learning activities in 10 child development content areas. Within each content area are "key experiences" that foster developmentally important skills and abilities. There are 58 key experiences for the preschool years. The 41 key experiences for the infant-toddler years are sometimes used in High/Scope preschool programs that also serve developmentally or chronologically younger children.

Assessment. The COR (Child Observation Record) is used to evaluate child progress in High/Scope infant-toddler and preschool programs. The Preschool Program Quality Assessment (PQA) is used to evaluate the quality of the program, focusing on five key areas: learning environment, daily routine, adult-child interaction, curriculum planning and assessment, and parent involvement and family services.

Using the High/Scope Curriculum in State and School District Pre-K Programs. As more and more states and local school districts move toward universal or targeted pre-kindergarten (pre-K) programs, they must consider which curriculum model to adopt, how to train staff, and how to measure the program's quality and effectiveness. High/Scope's child development orientation makes it highly compatible with various state standards for early childhood learning and with Head Start outcomes. As a comprehensive, research-based system of child instruction, staff development, and accountability assessment, High/Scope meets the needs of those seeking a proven Pre-kindergarten model, as described in our Pre-K Prospectus.

Comprehensive Curriculum Guides 

  • Preschool-Educating Young Children: Active Learning Practices for Preschool and Child Care Programs
  • Preschool-Essentials of Active Learning in Preschool: Getting to Know the High/Scope Curriculum
  • Infant-Toddler-Tender Care and Early Learning: Supporting Infants and Toddlers in Child Care Settings 

Assessment Instruments

  • Preschool Child Observation Record (COR)
  • Infant-Toddler Child Observation Record (COR)
  • Preschool Program Quality Assessment (PQA)
  • Early Literacy Skills Assessment (ELSA)

 Comprehensive Curriculum Guides

  • Preschool-Educating Young Children: Active Learning Practices for Preschool and Child Care Programs
  • Preschool-Essentials of Active Learning in Preschool: Getting to Know the High/Scope Curriculum
  • Infant-Toddler-Tender Care and Early Learning: Supporting Infants and Toddlers in Child Care Settings

Assessment Instruments

  • Preschool Child Observation Record (COR)
  • Infant-Toddler Child Observation Record (COR)
  • Preschool Program Quality Assessment (PQA)
  • Early Literacy Skills Assessment (ELSA)

(All instruments are generic and may be used in both High/Scope and non-High/Scope programs with a child development orientation.)

The name "High/Scope" and its corporate logos are registered trademarks and service marks of the High/Scope Foundation.

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