High Scope: A Constructivist Approach (page 3)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Key Experiences

Teachers continually encourage and support children’s interests and involvement in activities that occur within an organized environment and a consistent routine. Teachers plan for key experiences that may broaden and strengthen children’s emerging abilities. Children generate many of these experiences on their own; others require teacher guidance. Many key experiences are natural extensions of children’s projects and interests.

Work Time

This part of the plan-do-review sequence is generally the longest time period in the daily routine. The teacher’s role during work time is to observe children to see how they gather information, interact with peers, and solve problems, and when appropriate, teachers enter into the children’s activities to encourage, extend, and set up problem-solving situations.

Cleanup Time

During cleanup time, children return materials and equipment to their labeled places and store their incomplete projects, restoring order to the classroom. All children’s materials in the classroom are within reach and on open shelves. Clear labeling enables children to return all work materials to their appropriate places.

Recall Time

Recall time, the final phase of the plan-do-review sequence, is the time when children represent their work-time experience in a variety of developmentally appropriate ways. They might recall the names of the children they involved in their plan, draw a picture of the building they made, or describe the problems they encountered. Recall strategies include drawing pictures, making models, physically demonstrating how a plan was carried out, or verbally recalling the events of work time. The teacher supports children’s linking of the actual work to their original plan.

This review permits children to reflect on what they did and how it was done. It brings closure to children’s planning and work-time activities. Putting their ideas and experiences into words also facilitates children’s language development. Most important, it enables children to represent to others their mental schemes.

Providing for Diversity and Disability

The High/Scope curriculum is a developmentally appropriate approach that is child centered and promotes active learning. The use of learning centers, active learning, and the plan-do-review cycle, as well as allowing children to progress at their own pace, provides for children’s individual and special needs. High/Scope teachers emphasize the broad cognitive, social, and physical abilities that are important for all children, instead of focusing on a child’s deficits. High/Scope teachers identify where a child is developmentally and then provide a rich range of experiences appropriate for that level. For example, they would encourage a four-year-old who is functioning at a two-year-old level to express his or her plans by pointing, gesturing, and saying single words, and they would immerse the child in a conversational environment that provided many natural opportunities for using and hearing language (Educational Programs: Early Childhood, 2007).

Many early childhood programs for children with special needs incorporate the High/Scope approach. For example, the Regional Early Childhood Center at Rockburn Elementary School in Elkridge, Maryland, operates a full-day multiple-intense-needs class for children with disabilities and typically developing peers and uses the High/Scope approach. The daily routine includes greeting time, small groups (e.g., art, sensory, preacademics), planning time (i.e., picking a center), work time at the centers, cleanup time, recall (i.e., discussing where they “worked”), snacks, circle time with stories, movement and music, and outside time (Regional Early Childhood Center, 2007).

Further Thoughts

The High/Scope approach represents one approach to educating young children. Whereas Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf are European based in philosophy and context, High/Scope puts into practice the learning-by-doing American philosophy. It builds on Dewey’s ideas of active learning and teaching in the context of children’s interests.

High/Scope is widely used in Head Start and early childhood programs across the United States; High/Scope research has demonstrated that its approach is compatible with Head Start guidelines and performance standards.

There are number of advantages to implementing the High/Scope approach:

  • It offers a method for implementing a constructivist-based program that has its roots in Dewey’s philosophy and Piagetian cognitive theory.
  • It is widely popular and has been extensively researched and tested.
  • There is a vast network of teacher training and support provided by the High/Scope Foundation.
  • It is research based and it works.

As a result, the High/Scope approach is viewed by early childhood practitioners as one that implements many of the best practices embraced by the profession.

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