High Scope vs. Creative Curriculum: What’s the difference?

If you are finding yourself lost in the world of preschool curriculums, worry not! Most parents face this dilemma about which curriculum they should choose for their ‘ready-for-preschool’ child. This confusion is quite obvious as you hear names like Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf, HighScope, Creative Curriculum, and many more! Each of these uniquely designed curriculums is meant to welcome and support little kids as they gain their early childhood education.

Because it is difficult to discuss all these approaches in a single blog post, we have addressed them in multiple writeups, like Reggio Emilia vs. Montessori vs. Waldorf and the Montessori method of teaching. In this post, we will discuss in depth HighScope and Creative Curriculum, which are two popular curriculum choices in public and private schools, and learn about their similarities and differences. So, let’s dive into the details!

Understanding the HighScope curriculum

It was in the year 1962 that the HighScope Curriculum came into existence in the form of the Perry Preschool Project. The project was initiated in Ypsilanti to provide early education to children belonging to underprivileged families. Later in 1970, psychologist Dr. David Weikart established the HighScope Educational Research Foundation to share his mission of providing high-quality early education with schools all over.

highscope curriculum

With active learning at its center, the curriculum is designed in a way to help early learners gain knowledge as they interact playfully with people, events, objects, ideas, and their environment. The framework consists of 58 key developmental indicators (KPIs) around which the curriculum content is designed.

In schools following the HighScope curriculum, teachers create a learning environment that supports exploration and social interaction by providing relevant learning materials. They act as supportive learning partners who communicate, encourage, and employ scaffolding to promote learning in the classroom.

With a consistent daily routine comprising different learning centers and the ‘plan-do-review’ approach along with ongoing assessments, educators ensure that every child is achieving the best educational outcomes according to their abilities.

Benefits of HighScope curriculum

  • Offers personalized learning to young learners.
  • Promotes social and emotional development.
  • Provides a rich academic foundation.
  • Fosters independence, cooperation, and decision-making.
  • Promotes creativity and problem-solving.
  • Children learn to plan their activities and execute them.

Exploring the Creative Curriculum

The founder of Teaching Strategies Inc., Diane Trister Dodge, developed the Creative Curriculum in 1978. It is another popular educational method for early childhood education. It focuses on the ‘whole child’ to create confident young learners.

The curriculum employs multiple project-based hands-on activities to boost confidence, creativity, and critical thinking skills in young learners. Teachers create multiple opportunities to learn by planning activities in eleven different areas like art, library, music, blocks, and more.

creative curriculum

The Creative Curriculum combines teacher-led and child-led activities to promote creativity and self-control, leading to the development of independent and confident learners. It is built to foster cognitive, language, physical, and social/emotional development. Ever since the curriculum was created, it has undergone several revisions to match the changing needs of early childhood development.

Benefits of creative curriculum

  • Encourages creativity and imagination.
  • Allows children to interact with one another.
  • Allows kids to explore and recognize their emotions.
  • Focuses on the holistic development of a child.
  • Promotes equity and inclusion in the classroom.

Comparative analysis between HighScope vs. Creative Curriculum


1. Encourage play-based learning to allow children to learn various skills in a natural and engaging manner.

2. Have a child-centered approach, which means they focus on the interests, needs, and developmental stages of individual children.

3. Prioritize the holistic development of children, which not only includes cognitive development but also other aspects like social-emotional learning and physical growth.

4. Use of tools to assess a child’s growth and development. Ongoing assessment via observation and documentation is a key component of both the HighScope and Creative Curriculum.

5. Parents are involved in the educational process of their children through communication and collaboration.

6. Offer individualized learning as they recognize that every child has a different learning style and strengths.


HighScope Curriculum

Creative Curriculum
Philosophy and ApproachEmphasises active learning.
Teachers help children develop their own daily schedules based on their interests.
Focuses on the development of the ‘whole child.’
Teachers plan activities and areas of learning, keeping student interests in mind.
Curriculum structureUtilizes a structured routine that includes plan-do-review cycles.
Learning centers are organized where children engage in extended periods of play and exploration.
Offers flexibility in terms of daily routines and play opportunities.
Promotes theme-based and integrated learning, allowing teachers to adapt content based on the interests of students.
Teacher’s roleTeachers act as partners and are actively involved in guiding and facilitating children’s learning experiences.Teachers act as planners and facilitators, observing and supporting children’s play and exploration.
learning environmentOpen-ended materials are placed in labeled boxes at reachable places.
Clearly defined learning centers.
Use of real-life items like clothes, utensils, etc.
A designated play area where kids can bring their choice of materials for play.
Has a flexible learning environment that adapts to children’s interests and needs.
Physical spaces for different interest areas are set up with a variety of materials to stimulate exploration and creativity.
Focus on creativityWhile creativity is encouraged, it may be more structured due to the routine and plan-do-review cycles.Places a strong emphasis on nurturing children’s creativity and imagination through open-ended activities and opportunities for self-expression.
Teacher certificationTeachers require certification.Teachers do not require certification.

Choosing the right curriculum for your child

Choosing an appropriate preschool curriculum for your child is a crucial decision that requires careful consideration. Therefore, parents must use this opportunity to find a preschool where their children can get unique learning experiences during these early years of education.

When choosing a preschool curriculum, it is important to consider your child’s individual needs, interests, and learning styles. It can help if you reflect on your educational values to find a curriculum that aligns with your vision for your child’s growth. Think about whether your child will do well in a structured environment or a more flexible learning environment. Analyzing how much-individualized attention your child will need can also help you decide on the best curriculum for your child.

The best way to identify a curriculum that meets your child’s needs is to visit a few preschools in your area to observe how they work and have a discussion with the teachers. Their insights can guide your decision on whether that curriculum will suit your child’s personality and learning preferences. 

Another point to remember when finalizing a preschool curriculum for your child is that preschool is not only about academic readiness. It is also a time for social-emotional development and instilling a love for learning so your child is ready for their educational journey ahead.

In conclusion

Selecting the right preschool curriculum is no easy feat. With so many options available, it can be a little overwhelming for parents to make a decision. When talking about the HighScope and Creative Curriculum, we can infer that both have solid plans in place to make sure no child is deprived of the opportunity to learn through play and receive individualized attention so they can excel in all spheres of development.

If your child is an active learner who loves routine and performs well in a structured environment, the HighScope Curriculum may be a good choice for them. But if your child enjoys a flexible learning environment that nurtures creativity and imagination, the Creative Curriculum could be a better fit.

No matter which curriculum you pick for your child, it is important to remember that it is not just about the approach you choose but how well it is implemented to create a nurturing, engaging, safe, and stimulating learning environment for children.

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