High Scope Curriculum

Adult-Child Interaction

Sharing control: Adults and children as partners. In the HighScope Curriculum, shared control is central to how adults and children interact. The curriculum has many specific strategies for accomplishing this goal. Children are in control of child-sized decisions such as where to play, how to play, and whom to play with. Adults are in charge of adult-sized decisions including establishing the daily routine, arranging and equipping the classroom, planning group activities around curriculum content areas, and keeping children physically and psychologically safe.

HighScope has neither a directive nor an “anything-goes” atmosphere. Instead, HighScope promotes a supportive climate in which adults and children are partners throughout the day.

Research on the importance of adult-child interaction. Research indicates that they 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, children take more initiative and are more likely to be actively involved and persistent in their work.

Interaction strategies that promote active learning. Some of the most important adult-child interaction strategies used in HighScope programs are listed below.  Details on how to apply these strategies, as well as many other adult-child strategies for specific areas of learning, are given in HighScope's training and publications. 

♦ Adults offer children comfort and contact. Adults look for children who need reassurance and support and are quick to offer a hand to hold, a lap to curl up in, or just their calm presence nearby.

♦ Adults participate in children's play. Adults look for natural openings in children's play and then join the child or children at their physical level. Once near a child who is playing, adults often imitate what the child is doing. This shows the child that his or her activities are valued and supported by the adult. At children's invitation, adults often play as partners with children. During pretend play, adults follow the child's lead, assuming roles suggested by the children. Adults may suggest new ideas to challenge children within an ongoing play situation, but in so doing adults continue to follow children's cues and stay within the play theme the children have chosen. 

♦ Adults converse as partners with children. Adults look for opportunities for conversations with children about the activities children are engaged in. Children take the lead in these conversations. Adults talk with children in a natural, give-and-take way. Adults make comments that allow the conversation to continue without pressuring the child for a response. They ask questions sparingly and responsively, out of a genuine interest in what children are doing. They avoid quizzing children on facts or concepts. Adults avoid praise and judgmental comments of all kinds. Instead they make objective, specific comments that encourage children to expand their descriptive language and think about what they are doing. 

♦ Adults encourage children’s problem solving. Whenever possible, adults encourage children to solve problems for themselves. 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. When children have conflicts with each other, adults stay nearby to be ready to offer support as needed (but intervene immediately to stop hurtful words or actions). When necessary, adults use the six steps in conflict resolution to help children find a solution to their problem.

Effective adult-child interaction is essential to a successful early childhood program. Changes in how adults interact with children do not happen overnight. HighScope is ready to offer training, publications, and guided support to help teachers and caregivers strengthen their skills in this critical area of program quality.

The Classroom

The space and materials in a HighScope setting are carefully chosen and arranged to promote active learning. Although we do not endorse specific types or brands of toys and equipment, HighScope does provide general guidelines and recommendations for selecting materials that are meaningful and interesting to children.

Characteristics of the learning environment

The learning environment in HighScope programs has the following characteristics:

♦  Is welcoming to children

♦  Provides enough materials for all the children

♦  Allows children to find, use, and return materials independently

♦  Encourages different types of play

♦  Allows the children to see and easily move through all the areas of the classroom or center

♦  Is flexible so children can extend their play by bringing materials from one area to another

♦  Provides materials that reflect the diversity of children’s family lives

► Interest areas typically seen in HighScope classrooms:
block area
house area
art area
toy area
reading and writing area
sand and water area woodworking area movement & music area
math and science area
computer area
outdoor area

Dividing the classroom into interest areas

The space is divided into interest areas or learning centers equipped for distinct kinds of play. The areas are chosen to reflect children's natural interests.

How teachers select materials for the interest areas

The materials in each interest area are carefully selected to reflect children's interests and developmental levels. Teachers choose many open-ended materials — materials that can be used in a variety of ways, such as blocks in all sizes, art materials, and fabric pieces. Teachers seek out natural, found, and recycled materials, such as shells, twigs, rocks, carpet pieces, used containers, and old clothes.

Teachers consider it especially important to have plenty of real items that reflect children's lives, for example, cooking tools, small appliances that no longer work, dress-up clothes, and other objects and tools from children's houses and yards. These items allow children to imitate adults. Because these materials are familiar to children and reflect their home cultures, they help children feel comfortable in the classroom.

In choosing materials, teachers keep in mind the need to provide materials for the major types of play that are typical for preschoolers, for example,

♦  Exploratory play — string, glue, play dough, water

♦  Constructive play (making things) —  blocks, tubes, boxes, fabric pieces

♦  Dramatic play — dress-up clothes, suitcases, pots and pans, dolls

♦  Games — materials like cards, paper, counters, and dice that children can use to make-up their own simple games

Storage and labeling

To help children find and put away materials themselves, materials are stored in consistent places in the classroom, on low shelves or on the floor, and in containers that children can see into and handle. Similar items are stored together. Shelves and containers have labels that make sense to children; for example, the labels might contain words, drawings, tracings of the object, photos, or an example of the actual object.

Detailed lists of possible materials for each interest area and guidelines for using them with children to support learning in curriculum content areas are provided in HighScope publications and training. HighScope teachers are trained to continually reassess and add to the materials in their settings. They recognize that children's play items are the "raw materials" of learning.

Daily Routine

A framework for the day's events that supports children's security and independence.

HighScope preschool programs follow a predictable sequence of events known as the daily routine. This provides a structure within which children can make choices and follow their interests. Following a consistent routine day after day gives children the sense of security they need to make choices and take risks, which opens the door to exciting learning opportunities. Although each HighScope program decides on the routine that works best for its setting, schedule, and population, the segments described in the following section are always included during the program day. The length and order of the segments varies from program to program.

Plan-do-review sequence (planning time, work time, recall time). This three-part sequence is unique to the HighScope Curriculum. It includes a 10- to 15-minute period during which children plan what they want to do during work time (the area to visit, materials to use, and friends to play with); a 45- to 60-minute work time for children to carry out their plans (or shift to new activities that interest them); and another 10- to 15-minute period for reviewing and recalling with an adult and other children what they've done and learned.

Small-group time. During this time, a small group of children meet with an adult to experiment with materials, try out new skills, and solve problems. Adults develop a small-group activity based on children's interests and particular skills, materials, or content areas that suit children's developmental learning needs. Though the adult plans the activity and sets it in motion, children make choices about how to use the materials and freely communicate their ideas.

Large-group time. Large-group time builds a sense of community. Up to 20 children and 2 adults come together for movement and music activities, interactive storytelling, and other shared experiences. Children have many opportunities to make choices and play the role of leader.

Outside time. Children and adults spend at least 30 minutes outside every day, enjoying vigorous and often noisy play in the fresh air.

Transition times. Transitions are the minutes between other blocks of the day, as well as arrival and departure times. Teachers strive to make transitions pass smoothly, since they set the stage for the next segment in the day's schedule. They also provide meaningful learning opportunities themselves.

Eating and resting times (if applicable). Meals and snacks allow children to enjoy eating healthy food in a supportive social setting. Rest is for quiet, solitary activities. Since both activities happen at home as well as at school, adults in HighScope programs try to respect family customs at these times as much as possible. A primary goal is to create a shared and secure sense of community within the program.

Adult team planning time. This time happens every day in a HighScope program. It can occur during children's nap time, before children arrive, or after they leave. The teaching team meets to discuss their observations of children's developing abilities and interests, focusing on these observations as they plan activities and review the materials in the classroom.

The information listed above is from: http://www.highscope.org/Content.asp?ContentId=182

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