What is High Five?
High Five was developed by Parks and Recreation Ontario to help identify programs that are very child centered and offer activities for children that meet the following criteria:
The research identified five principles of healthy child development that are essential for quality programs: a caring adult, opportunity to play, make friends, master skills and participate. These principles support quality experiences for children – the kind of experiences HIGH FIVE® helps to deliver.
5 Principles of Healthy Child Development
A Caring Adult
If there was one attribute that stood out in the literature related to quality programs for children, it was the existence of a caring adult providing supportive relationships. The following quote succinctly states the case: “Program quality boils down to effective interactions between staff and youth and the environment the staff creates. If those interactions are lacking (e.g., adults are not interacting with youth) or are of poor quality (e.g., the adults belittle or yell at youth), no program, research-based or not, can be effective. In fact, the program could be detrimental.”
Caring, positive and supportive relationships with adults help children 6 to 12 years develop positive social skills, self-esteem and self-confidence. This principle is grounded and confirmed by the literature.
Friends help introduce children to the bigger world beyond their family, share in humour, test loyalty, form their first audience and offer support and criticism. Within the supportive/caring relationships characteristic of effective programs, positive peer interactions was the second most frequently cited attribute.
“Young children's peers offer inclusion and acceptance, opportunity for having fun in constructive play, and opportunity for developing and practicing pro-social skills.”10
On the other hand, “Negative program emotional climate was associated with more child emotional and behavioural problems at school. Greater frequency of negative interactions with peers at the program was associated with more emotional and behaviourial problems and poorer social skills at school.”
According to this principle, children need to make choices, have a voice and do things by and for themselves. The literature confirms that quality programs possess this orientation. As stated:
“Young children need to have daily opportunities to play with a variety of developmentally appropriate materials both structured and unstructured, that allow self-expression, physical activity, and interaction with others“10;
“Activities with more choice, enjoyment, interest and motivation, were rated as more supportive in terms of relationships, autonomy, and interest.” 12
Play stresses fun, creativity and cooperation. Play allows children to shape their environment, use their imaginations and enjoy the activities they are involved in. A number of articles reinforced the fact that opportunities to play are particularly important for healthy childhood development, “promoting the acquisition of motor skills, social skills and creativity, and the development of cognitive functions.”
Mastery means providing children with activities and tasks that make them feel they are special, important and succeeding. Researchers investigating human learning, “point to the importance of providing learners with rich content-based experiences, led by teachers or coaches who encourage mastery and use both structured and unstructured instructional strategies to promote learning.”
3 Design Guidelines
Diverse and Unique
There was evidence to indicate that the cultural sensitivity of staff and the provision of culturally appropriate activities are characteristics of quality programs.
The literature shows that higher quality programs are likely to have better health and safety policies and practices related to children’s physical and emotional safety. In addition, quality programs provide adequate space for a variety of safe activities.
Age-stage or developmentally appropriate programming and equipment was the second most frequently cited characteristic of quality programs for children (following a caring adult).
Futures Gymnastics, Danceworks and Thunder Cheer are all very proud to be a Fully Accredited Organization. We are the only Gymnastics Center in Ontario to hold this designation! This means that Parks and Recreation Ontario has reviewed our Programs, Facilities, Policies and Staff and awarded us this designation. We recently completed our Re-Accreditation.