Basis of The High/Scope Curriculum
The High/Scope curriculum model has had a major influence on early childhood education for over 40 years (Bredekamp, 1996). David Weikart and others created the Perry Preschool Program in the 1960s as a model approach designed to help disadvantaged preschool children develop the skills needed to succeed in the public school system. The program emphasizes the importance of teaching the cognitive understandings needed for academic success in reading and mathematics (DeVries & Kohlberg, 1987).
After initially receiving federal support in the 1960s, a private organization called the High/Scope Foundation took over responsibility for continuing to promote the model. David Weikart, who has been the leading visionary and driving force behind the High/Scope program from its beginning, served as president of this foundation until 2000, when he retired (High/Scope Foundation, 2006). This curricular approach, although originally designed for preschool-age children, has been successfully used with infant/toddlers and primary-age children in more recent years (Bredekamp, 1996; Post & Hohmann, 2000).
The High/Scope curriculum is grounded in the theoretical perspectives of Jean Piaget, who believed that children learn best when they build understanding through direct experiences with people and objects in the world around them. The application of Piaget’s theories to life in classrooms has led to the development of several programs that are collectively called constructivist in their approach. The High/Scope curriculum is the best-known example of this type. DeVries and Kohlberg (1987) and Kamii and DeVries (1978) have each described their thoughts on constructivist education in separate books. Studying the perspectives presented in these resources will add further insights into the High/Scope model.
While emphasizing the development of the whole child, High/Scope focuses on strengthening cognitive skills through active, hands-on learning experiences. This cognitively oriented curriculum is founded on the belief that children cannot understand themselves without first being able to place themselves in time and space and to classify and order objects and events (Weikart, Rogers, Adcock, & McClelland, 1971).
The High/Scope program is designed to help children develop logicomathematical and spatiotemporal understandings of the world around them (Hohmann & Weikart, 1995). Logicomathematical relationships include organizing objects into groups according to common characteristics and ordering items from smallest to largest. These tasks are based on Piaget’s studies of logic and number. Spatiotemporal relationships focus on helping children understand relational concepts such as up/down, over/under, and inside/outside. Event sequences and cause-and-effect relationships are also emphasized.
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