The innovative approach is largely based on “free play” and a “plan-do-review” sequence.
While many in the Haut-Saint-Laurent are aware of the excellent quality of our early childhood education centers (CPE’s), some might not realize that our region’s children are benefitting from a forward-thinking educational method called Highscope.
The innovative approach is largely based on “free play” and a “plan-do-review” sequence that provides children with the opportunity to develop their emotional intelligence. The life-changing methodology has also been proven to raise the long term prospects of children living in socio-economically challenged communities.
Highscope was developed based on a study called the Perry Preschool Project. The objective was to observe the long term benefits for children who received high-quality early childhood education. One hundred and twenty-three children from a socio-economic challenged community in Ypsilanti, Michigan were separated into two groups: one continued within their previous home environment; the second group attended Perry Preschool. Their development was monitored for 40-plus years and the impressive results showed that children who attended the Highscope program were more likely to graduate from high school, had a higher literacy rate, earned more money as adults, owned their own homes, and had a lower incarceration rate than the group of children who remained within their home care environment. (reference www.highscope.org)
The cornerstone of the Highscope curriculum is called Active Learning. The theory is that children build initiative, autonomy, self-confidence, advance social skills, and develop attachments to their educators, all through play. Conflict resolution is also a key element of the approach. Children are encouraged to brainstorm solutions and discuss what approaches could or could not work. Educators then help them follow through.
Another priority is involving the children in planning what they will do during “work time,” otherwise known as free play. What does this all look like in action? An educator might ask the children questions like: “Where will you work? Will you be working alone or with someone?” Children then review what they have done with their educator. The plan-do-review sequence is intended to promote executive functioning and allow children to feel in control of their actions.
Norma Ouellette (Assistant Director of CPE Abracadabra Installation Les Petites Pommes, and Highscope certified trainer for Infants and Toddlers) has only positive things to say about the method. “After having applied Highscope in our centers for the past few years, we are now able to observe the undeniable benefits. We see children being autonomous in solving problems with their peers. These increased communication skills are a necessary element for a successful integration into kindergarten.” Multiple CPE’s throughout the Haut-Saint-Laurent are now in different stages of applying the Highscope curriculum. Ouellette elaborates: “It is a process that takes commitment and a strong leader to assure its continued application. It is a worthwhile long-term investment.”
* Special thanks to Genette Moore, Andrea Sheaves, and Norma Ouellette for content.