I taught preschool using High/Scope curriculum for the past four years, in a preschool housed in a public school. I moved to first grade this year, and I am really missing the High/Scope methods! (I found your forum thread by searching "high/scope.") With High/Scope, it's all about child-directed learning. I (the teacher) provide the learning environment, including materials and routines and even what I say and do in response to your actions. You (the child) get to choose how you will use the materials, what area of the classroom you wish to work in, etc.
One thing parents tend to find fascinating is the method of conflict resolution. In a perfect High/Scope classroom, no one would ever be "in trouble!" For example, Suzy takes a toy away from Jane. I rush in, ask what the problem is, and each child gets a turn to tell me what happened. I then restate the problem: "So, the problem is, Jane wants to play with this toy, and Suzy wants to play with this toy." Oh, and by the way, I am holding the toy while we talk about this! "Wow, that is a problem, because there is only one toy. What could we do about this?" The kids get to come up with ideas, and we are looking for an idea that is okay with both kids. If no one has an idea, I might say, "Hmm, do you want to hear my idea?" But whether it is my idea or theirs, I will ask, "Suzy, would that work for you? Jane, would that work for you?" If I have to keep the toy for the next two hours, and revisit the kids every few minutes, I will. The fascinating thing is, by the end of the school year, I will hear these little conflict resolutions happening without me!
It's counter-intuitive to most adults to not "enforce and punish," but if we stick with it, conflict resolution is much better at teaching kids how to make good choices.
You mentioned homeschooling. I have to admit, I'm a closet homeschooling junky! I imagine that when I have kids, I will homeschool. Teaching with the High/Scope methods definitely satisfied the "inner homeschooler!" I was free to focus on each child as an individual. I had 3- and 4-year-olds, so each year I started with little baby 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds who had never been in preschool before, and 4-year-olds who were returning to me for a second year of preschool. I loved the diversity of development, and I never found it overwhelming or impossible to teach each child. I feel that the High/Scope methods make it so natural to address each child where they are, even if there are many children.
I have not worked with Montessori methods, though I remember a little of what I learned about them in college. But, I don't feel I know enough about Montessori to make fair comparisons between the two. I love High/Scope! If you have any other questions, I'll do my best to answer them!
Question...why not "homeschool" for preschool? Have you considered it? Is it a possibility in your family situation?