Literature Review on the difference between the High Scope Curriculum and Creative


High Scope and Creative Curriculum are significant in promoting the best learning environments for preschools. The two elements are similar in that they both apply well-researched philosophies in the growth and development of children. Besides, the High Scope and Creative Curriculum is applied in Head Start Programs, private schools, as well as public schools (Rush and Shelden, 2011). Several studies have been conducted to explore the curriculum of the preschools and its significant elements. There is a need to research on the topic to identify gaps and framework to be applied in the school systems. My research explores the differences between the High Scope Curriculum and Creative Curriculum in preschools.

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Dodge (1995) explains that the most suitable curriculum for preschools is one that puts more focus on forming a physical and social environment that bases its elements on the growth and development of every child. Besides, Dodge argues that a clear curriculum structure is the one that includes partnerships with parents and guardians, the role of educator, physical environment, goals and objectives, and philosophy. This aspect has been explored in several articles too. Additionally, several scholars have explored the significance of curriculum in preschools education. According to Schweinhart and Weikart (1998), both the teacher and the child plan together the activities to follow in class. Regarding this study, Schweinhart and Weikart conducted a study to differentiate between High/Scope curriculum and traditional nursery school where previously, preschools were initiating the activities and teachers would follow. However, this form of command resulted in temporary results but children also developed interpersonal skills and social responsibility. Some of the variations of the curriculum include traditional or nursery school (teacher and child initiate), custodial (both teacher and child are unresponsive as it is unstructured and unplanned), developmentally responsive (pupil initiate and teacher responds), and direct instruction (child initiates, teacher respond).

High Scope Curriculum

Schweinhart and Weikart (1998) explain that David Weikart founded the High Scope Curriculum more than 4 decades ago in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The core objective of the curriculum was to assist kids from less privileged regions to attain education successfully in school. Schweinhart and Weikart (1998) explain that the High Scope Curriculum differs from other school approaches because it has been intensively researched where the schoolchildren were the participants in terms of growth and development to the childhood stage. David Weikkart and his team followed a longitudinal survey to research the High Scope program children, who turned to attain better performance in higher education learning and better employment opportunities. Comparatively, with the control group, these children scored higher and better in higher education and employment.

The High Scope preschool approach is applied in programs for children with special needs, intergenerational programs, home-based childcare programs, childcare centers, Head Start programs, nursery schools, and public and private half- and full-day preschools. The High Scope preschool approach has been employed both in urban regions in the U.S. and across the world (Thomas, 2010).

Learning in the High Scope Curriculum

Schweinhart (2003) argues that preschools learn best when pursuing their individual goals and interests. The High Scope Curriculum encourages a child to choose the activities and the materials to employ in class. Through this approach, a child is allowed to explore his/her interests, interact with classmates and adults, solve problems, and ask questions. The High Scope Curriculum provides approximately 58 key experiences in the child development process and several applicable approaches to promote key experiences. The key experiences are categorized into Logical Reasoning, Movement and Music, Initiative and Social Relations, Initiative and Social Relations, and Creative Representation.

High Scope Curriculum Setting

The preschool learning environment is designed in a way to promote active learning. This is by organizing the area to particular forms of play. For example, a class or the institution may have separate areas of sand and water play, books and writing materials, small toys, computers, house play, art activities, and block play. The organization of the materials is a way that is easily accessible to children. However, the approach does not endorse or recommend specific school materials or items but only guides the children during selection.

The setting is in a way that promotes children with a sense of self-control while allowing teachers to interact with children. The major approach employed in the school is “plan-do-review sequence,” where a child identifies their intent and makes a plan, conducts the activities, and reflects on what they have learned. The activity also comprises time for outside play and large and small group experiences. Some of the strategies that teachers follow in High Scope Curriculum is to assist the child to attain problem-solving strategies, support the child play ideas, form an authentic relationship with the child, focus on the strength of a child, and control sharing with the child.


The High Scope Curriculum applies the Preschool Child Observation Record (COR), Second Edition to explore the development process of individual children. The COR requires a teacher to identify and take notes of the child development process. The classes hold daily team planning where teachers discuss the development and specific behaviors of every child. The anecdotal notes are applied to fill the COR assessment kit periodically. The instruments applied to evaluate preschools programs are Preschool Program Quality Assessment (PQA).

The Creative Curriculum

Gullickson (2018) provides that the creative curriculum in preschool is a project-based analysis where the schoolchildren use their gained skills to deal with four areas of their development: language, cognitive, physical, and social/emotional. Gullickson adds that the Creative Curriculum is formulated to assist the development process of a child by following a teacher-led approach. The approach operates by sub-dividing the children in small groups and assigning the children different learning activities, which are scheduled in 11 interest areas (outdoors, computers, cooking, music and movement, sand and water, discovery, library, art, toys and games, dramatic plays and blocks).

One distinguishable element of the creative curriculum is that teachers are knowledgeable and pass the knowledge of learning processes, teaching strategies, classroom organization, and child development. Evaluation of the creative curriculum is attained through periodical classroom assessment. Davies, Newton, and Newton (2018) argue that a creative curriculum applies a separate purchase of child assessment. However, to maintain and organize the children’s portfolio, the teachers use online record-keeping apps that help in the reporting and planning for each child.

The Creative Curriculum explores a child through observation-based child assessments with an addition curriculum guide on social studies, science, math, and separate literacy. The Creative Curriculum applies No Child Left behind (NCLB), an act that influences education in America. The legislation regulates education by ensuring the preschools attain proficiency in science, reading, and mathematics. The Creative Curriculum promotes behavioral, social, and emotional outcomes of students.


Jenkins (2010) identifies that while regulating the best curriculum for students, it is good to consider children with learning disabilities. This part of students does not benefit from traditional assessment strategies like periodic testing, which may fail to illustrate the accuracy in a child’s development. Following a Curriculum-based assessment, a teacher applies Progress Monitoring Assessment or Curriculum-Based Measurement where particular benchmarking procedures are employed, regularly defined, and assessed to ensure this population attains the best learning outcomes.

Both curriculums apply the building blocks in their different ways to promote the best learning outcomes for children. The two aims at hastening the inter-relation between the student and the teacher to promote the learning abilities. There is a need for more exploration of the effectiveness of the High Scope Curriculum and Creative Curriculum to identify the most appropriate curriculum for pre-schools. The approaches should be holistic to ensure students successfully attain the required skills from class.

Both the High Scope Curriculum and Creative Curriculum explore the development and growth of a child. However, the High Scope Curriculum explores more on play activities, which are initiated by a child, while the Creative Curriculum explores skills and knowledge on formal and informal settings, which promotes literacy and language abilities. Besides, the High Scope Curriculum requires the proper application of the curriculum, which calls for certification. Nonetheless, Creative Curriculum does not require certification but maintains proficient teachers through training on the successful teaching strategies (Davies et al., 2018). Nonetheless, the questions remain; which is the most effective teaching strategy for preschools – High Scope Curriculum or Creative Curriculum? This question according to the literature review varies, which calls for an in-depth analysis of the problem.


Davies, L., Newton, D., & Newton, P. (2017). Creativity as a twenty-first-century competence: an exploratory study of provision and reality. Education 3-13 International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education Volume 46, 2018 – Issue 7

Dodge, D. T. (1995). The importance of curriculum in achieving quality child day care programs. Child Welfare, 74(6), 1171.

Gullickson, H. (2018). Critique of the Creative Curriculum for Preschool. University of Montana Journal of Early Childhood Scholarship and Innovative Practice. 9(3‚4), 243-268.

Jenkins, J. (2010). Distinctions without a difference? Preschool curricula and children’s development. Early childhood environment rating scale. New York: Teachers College Press.

Rush, D. D., & Shelden, M. L. L. (2011). The Early Childhood Coaching Handbook. Brookes Publishing Company. PO Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285.

Schweinhart, L. J. (2003). Benefits, Costs, and Explanation of the High/Scope Perry Preschool Program.

Schweinhart, L. J., & Weikart, D. P. (1997). The High/Scope preschool curriculum comparison study through age 23. Early childhood research quarterly, 12(2), 117-143.

Schweinhart, L. J., & Weikart, D. P. (1998). Why curriculum matters in early childhood education. Educational Leadership, 55, 57-61.

Thomas, L. (2010). A Case Study: The High/Scope Preschool Curriculum and Kindergarten Readiness in the Pittsgrove Township School District.  Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). 51.

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