HighScope Active Learning

Gretchen's House is proud to use the HighScope Active Learning Curriculum

Active Learning

HighScope uses the term active learning to describe our philosophy. In the early childhood years, learning is not simply a process of adults giving children directions or information to memorize. The HighScope Curriculum, used around the world, is based on decades of research demonstrating positive outcomes for all children when they are actively engaged in the process of thinking and building their own understanding.

In HighScope Classrooms

  • Children try out ideas, solve problems they encounter in play, and build skills in important content areas.
  • Teachers encourage children to explore a variety of materials in different ways, using all of their sense.
  • Children think and talk about what they are doing and learning.
  • Teachers recognize and encourage children's learning by planning activities and experiences, using HighScope's curriculum content as a guide.
  • Children from diverse backgrounds, including English language learners and those with special needs, develop a positive self-identity and an appreciation for the uniqueness of others.

HighScope Curriculum Content

  • Developed and revised to reflect the latest discoveries in early childhood education, the HighScope Curriculum covers all aspects of child development, including physical, social, and emotional development; language and literacy; mathematics and science; and the creative arts.
  • Aligns with state early childhood learning standards, including the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five.

Preschool Curriculum

Infant and Toddler Curriculum


The hallmark of the HighScope Curriculum is the Plan-Do-Review process, in which children make and carry out plans, then reflect on their accomplishments. During Plan-Do-Review, children:

  • Initiate activities that build upon their natural curiosity and excitement about learning
  • Engage in purposeful activity as they attempt to achieve goals they set for themselves
  • Develop self-confidence and increasingly complex thinking and play
  • Receive support from teachers who extend children's learning throughout the process of planning, playing, and reflecting

Problem Solving

Problem solving is an integral part of the active learning process. In the HighScope classroom, children:

  • Learn to resolve conflicts with others using the Six Steps in Conflict Mediation
  • Receive guidance from teachers who take the lean in supporting children as they learn to solve problems by themselves

Teacher and Child Relationships

HighScope teachers form genuine relationships with children and their families by:

  • Placing infants with primary caregivers to support a sense of security and the formation of attachment in a trusting relationship
  • Maintaining consistent small groups for preschoolers, to ensure that teachers and children develop close and stable relationships
  • Taking an active role in the learning process, first understanding children's current developmental abilities, and then carefully selecting classroom materials and planning activities to support children as they grow and learn
  • HighScope's assessment tool, COR Advantage, helps teachers understand more about your child's development and growth

The HighScope Classroom

A great deal of care and consideration goes into arranging a HighScope classroom and stocking the shelves with a wide variety of materials that stimulate children's thinking, creativity, and problem solving. HighScope classrooms are:

  • Organized into interest areas - such as the house are, block area, and art area - to promote different types of learning and social interactions
  • Arranged for infants and toddlers to provide our youngest learners with plenty of free space to test and develop motor skills
  • Designed to be warm and inviting, reflecting the cultures of families in the program and the communities in which they live

The Classroom Day

Children benefit from established routines and knowing what comes next. The daily schedule in HighScope classrooms includes:

  • Infant routines based on individual schedules and biological rhythms
  • A predictable and consistent daily routine for toddlers and preschoolers that gives them the sense of security they need to make choices and take risks, opening the door to exciting learning opportunities
  • The Plan-Do-Review process, large- and small- group activities, healthy snacks, and outdoor play; full-day programs also include mealtimes and a rest or nap time

Connecting Home and School

HighScope respects the family as the child's first teacher. HighScope teachers:

  • Build strong connections with families
  • Partner with families to support children's learning through home visits and parent teacher conferences
  • Help family members extend learning to home through parent meetings and the Family Network, a parent website
  • Share their observations about children's development with parents and discuss ways to work together to achieve common goals
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