When we talk about children “learning by doing,” newcomers sometimes worry that this means that very little learning takes place. On the contrary! Research shows that children learn more, and retain more knowledge, when they have hands-on experiences that allow them to predict, test, observe, and build upon existing knowledge. Our teachers plan curriculum with children’s individual interests and abilities in mind, allowing for varying levels of challenge and open-ended measures of success. This means that learning happens in an environment that is both comfortable and inspiring.
A large block of time each morning and afternoon is devoted to Work Time. Work time is a long stretch of time that gives the children an opportunity to explore all the areas of the classroom (including our outdoor classrooms!). Children move between the areas of the classroom environment at will. You are likely to see a House Area, Art Area, Block Area, Sand and Water Area, Writing Area and a Book Area in each room for the children to explore. You are also likely to see a large open space in the room for gathering together for Greeting Time and for our Large Group Time. Each area is set up to encourage self-directed play and learning. Most areas are not limited to one type of learning. For example, a pretend cooking project in the House Area could involve math (counting and measuring), science (properties of matter), language arts (reading a recipe and following directions), social skills (turn-taking, role playing) and problem-solving skills (teamwork, trouble-shooting, and sequencing). We do work time in extended blocks of time so that children have opportunities to explore them in depth and build on existing knowledge.
An important element of our morning routine is the Plan-Do-Review sequence. This three-part sequence is unique to the HighScope Curriculum. It includes
- a time during which children plan what they want to do during work time (the area to visit, materials to use, and friends to play with)
- the work time itself (the doing)
- time to review and recall with their family group what they’ve done and learned
Each morning also includes a Small Group Time and Large Group Time. Small Group Time is a time when each family group meets with their teacher to experiment with materials, try out new skills, and solve problems. The family group teacher develops a small-group activity based on children’s interests and particular skills, materials, or content areas that suit children’s developmental learning needs. Large Group Time is a time for the entire classroom and all the teachers to gather for movement and music activities, interactive storytelling, and other shared experiences.
We plan our curriculum based on the HighScope Key Developmental Indicators (KDI’s).