WHAT IS THE HIGHSCOPE CURRICULUM?
HighScope's educational approach emphasizes “active participatory learning.” Active learning means students have direct, hands-on experiences with people, objects, events, and ideas. Children’s interests and choices are at the heart of HighScope programs. They construct their own knowledge through interactions with the world and the people around them. Children take the first step in the learning process by making choices and following through on their plans and decisions. Teachers, caregivers, and parents offer physical, emotional, and intellectual support. In active learning settings, adults expand children’s thinking with diverse materials and nurturing interactions. Through scaffolding, adults help children gain knowledge and develop creative problem-solving skills.
HighScope uses the term scaffolding to describe the process whereby adults support and gently extend children's thinking and reasoning. Scaffolding is a term introduced by developmental psychologist Jerome Bruner and is based on the work of psychologist Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky referred to the zone of proximal development as the area between what children can accomplish on their own and what they can do with the help of an adult or another child who is more developmentally advanced. HighScope teachers carefully observe children so they know when and how to enter this zone. Children must be secure and confident in what they already know before they are ready to move to the next level. When HighScope says adults support and extend children’s learning, it means that the adults first validate, or support, what children already know, and then, when the time is right, gently encourage them to extend their thinking to the next level.