In 1907 Maria Montessori was invited to open her first Children’s House for the children of desperately poor families in the San Lorenzo slums of Rome. The origin of HighScope is in the failure of state education in deprived neighbourhoods of the USA in the 1960’s. It was a new way of using the resources at hand. A key element was home visits by the teachers. Although the group of children was just above the statistical minimum of 100 and the results not as good as hoped for when the longterm outcomes for the group were attributed to HighScope it became a valid option for early learning in deprived areas. The USA educated Ex Minister Katherine Zappone founded the Fledglings HighScope preschools. She launched First Five in November 2018, it is a ten year strategy. Play based learning is part of the First Five strategy.
Better Start run the “Aistear & Play” workshops.
The clash of theories and practice is now far less noticeable due mainly to HighScope & Montessori getting to understand, appreciate and absorb elements into the systems. In the past Role Play was promoted by HighScope preschools as a “Pretend Play” method. A pretend kitchen with pretend food, pretend pots and pans and pretend cuterly. It may come as a surprise to both Montessori and Highscope teachers that HighScope now calls out the “sham” element to “Pretend Play” . HighScope has taken onboard what Maria Montessori observed. They now promote “Realness” . From Talbot & Frost 1989. ” Children sense the difference between toys and real objects. In many situations, especially where size is not a problem, they prefer the real thing over the sham”
The HighScope Preschool Wheel of Learning is dived into 5 sections.
1. At its core is Active Learning 2. Daily Routine 3. Adult-Child interaction. 4. Assessment. 5 Environment – Areas, Materials, Storage.
The HighScope Learning Environment checklist is:
Art area . Block area. Book area. House area. Music and movement area. Toy area. Each of the areas has its own list of materials.
The Art Area, Book Area, Music and Movement area are already in the Montessori rooms I visit.
Please note Blocks : The Montessori Materials are not suited to the rough & tumble of active learning play.
The Toy area is the Enrichment materials .
The House Area has the Role play and Small World materials.
Small World – dolls house, garage, animals, vehicles, play mat, construction blocks. The Montessori classroom has a Small World Farm to support language development. People say to me “The children love” the small world materials. They love the road play mat, the animals, the farm house.
Role Play: HighScope roleplay links to what is everyday for the children. The jobs their parents do, the workers, the shops they see in their community. The home kitchen gives an opportunity also to introduce diet, hygiene & food preparation. Role Play is used in adult life – In preparing people for situations they may encounter. Pilots use flight simulators, I did a first aid course in which we role played using a defibrillator on a dummy.
It is my hope that this section will be of help in finding play materials that can fit in with a Montessori setting to fulfil the requirement for play based learning .