Active participatory learning is the foundation of the HighScope learning philosophy. Students have direct, hands-on experiences with people, objects, events, and ideas to construct their own knowledge of the world around them.

In active learning settings, adults expand children’s thinking with diverse materials and nurturing interactions. Adults are partners in the learning process, validating what children already know and then, when the time is right, providing scaffolding or support to gently extend the children’s thinking and reasoning.

Like many other education approaches, HighScope is consistent with the best practices recommended by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Head Start Program Performance Standards, Colorado Early Learning and Development Guidelines and other guidelines for developmentally-based programs. However, three unique features differentiate it from other early childhood programs:


Daily Plan-Do-Review Sequence

Planning and reviewing are the two components of the program proven to be most positively and significantly associated with children’s scores on measures of developmental progress.


Curriculum Content

These are the social, intellectual, and physical building blocks that are essential to young children’s optimal growth. There are eight main categories that correspond to state and national learning standards including (1) Approaches to Learning; (2) Social and Emotional Development; (3) Physical Development and Health; (4) Language, Literacy, and Communication; (5) Mathematics; (6) Creative Arts; (7) Science and Technology; and (8) Social Studies.


Key Developmental Indicators

There are 58 observable behaviors that define the important learning areas for young children. These indicators guide teachers when they set up the environment and plan activities to encourage learning and social interaction. They also form the basis of HighScope’s child assessment tool, called the Child Observation Record, or COR.