Daily Routines

Learning by Doing

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.

Predict. Test. Observe.
Build upon existing knowledge.

Our teachers plan curriculum based on the HighScope Key Developmental Indicators (KDI’s). The Key Developmental Indicators are learning outcomes that are aligned with the Federal Head Start Learning Outcomes for Infants and Toddlers and for Preschool. Teachers use these learning goals, children’s individual interests and children’s developmental abilities to guide their daily planning.  This means that learning happens in an environment that is flexible, comfortable and responsive to the children in that classroom.  Since each teaching team is planning using the individual interests and abilities of the children in their group, you will see a wide variety of curricular activities in each classroom.

  • Go outside every day, weather permitting.
  • Listen to stories and read to themselves every day.
  • Sing and listen to music every day.
  • Prepare family-style meals and snacks together every day.
  • Participate in the “work” aspects of group life: planning, setting up, and cleaning up activities; recycling.
  • Care for living things: plants, gardens, and animals, as is developmentally appropriate.

Work Time

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 to explore and build on existing knowledge.

House Area

Art Area

Block Area

Sand & Water Area

Writing Area

Book Area

Greeting Time

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.


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

Small Group and Large Group Times

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.