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Topics...some People Do Some People Don't


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As I read through the many posts on here I notice some settings stick to planning for topics/themes others are child led and plan through this.

 

My setting generally are child led and weekly planning is based on this.........no medium planning(!) and long term on special events/festivals/celebrations/birthdays etc

 

My questions are.............

 

Do you plan using topics/themes?

Are you child led?

What do you find works best?

If you still stick to themes.....have you tried to plan child-led?

 

 

I have my own opinion on this and would like to view others! xD:o

 

mrsb

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we plan much the same as you we put a lot into our continuos prov add enhancments. our children recently decided they liked playin under the tables so we made our role play into a cave. they changed it to a bears cave so we did bear hunt then I found some brill bear hats in the charity shop so we did 3 bears . this lasted till they got fed up we then planned for the next CI move.

I really like CL we do this as much as possible we are very small so have to move things around alot for gross motor play snack so somtimes our free flow is interupted for our routines I wish we could be bigger and have a great outside area instead of a postage stamp yard then we could really open up the CL experience.

our room also doubles up for our out of school so we try to ensure everything is adaptable in a short period for the older ones.

sue

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We haven't used topics since the beginning of the Autumn term. We are mainly child-led and weekly planning reflects this. At our recent inspection the inspector noticed lots of crossings-out in previous plans and really liked it when we explained that it was because the children wanted to do something else so they had to be changed.

 

Role play area seems a bit slap dash - we generally fill it with 'stuff' and the children made of it what they want.

Whenever they express an interest in something we try and cater for this. One child had to go to hospital which resulted in a conversation between the children and the following week we provided a hospital which they wanted to keep for a week.

 

The children get to choose what snacks we provide the following week. Its surprising how many do not ask for sweets. This usually leads to a discussion about healthy eating and they have always chosen well.

 

We have the usual craft activities and for instance, when we have the paint out the children choose the colours, whether to use brushes, sponges, hands or whatever else. Same with other messy stuff - dough, cornflour etc.

 

I think children have to get used to making decisions as well as us allowing them to.

 

Hope I haven't gone on too much. I am very much in favour of child-led settings and am so glad we made the change.

:o

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We are child led for planning, taking the requiments from obs. I do like it although as you say Role play gets confusing! Lots of tidy up to do, as they choose their own toys, get them out then change their minds ( they never seem to put them away!)

The children have small named boxs for snack ,each brings in their own choice of food

From Jan we plan to provide the snack one day aweek ie healthy, from around the world ect., on a taste and try bases.

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well im a childminder we do topics but also we do child led as well like at the moment where doing chirstmas but we areaslo doing obsavtions and doing the next step which are put on our wekly planning which is nothing to do with chirstams and we aslo do IPP for each child and we work on them aswell which are not to do with chirstmas either

 

so we do both

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I have just changed our setting from being topic led, as to be quite honest it wasn't working one little bit. Everybody was just wasting valuable time and getting really hacked off with it!

 

If you read up about motivational planning on the site we have found that invaluable in changing to be child led.

 

The children still need guiding and stretching but it is done in a way which appeals to them. In effect they are still topic based but the topics are guided by the children. Except of course seasons and events which just have to be done but the children enjoy these anyway!

 

I have just been delving into the EYFS disc and on their recommended planning all of the children have their individual plans, and the setting has long term plans and weekly plans. The weekly plan only seems to require one adult initiated activity with all all the rest being continuous provision.

 

I might be reading it wrong though!!

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Three years ago when I was still at playgroup I did away with topics and planned loosely on the childrens interests. The EY advisor we had saw the plans and said 'I'm glad you're doing this, my boss will be pleased, its we want others to do it'.

I left shortly afterwards so wasnt able to do the system justice but I really believed then as now that planning from the childrens interests is the best way. I always thought that as an adult I dont want to be told what to learn and when or how, I learn better when I'm interested and enthusiastic and have a wish to know more about something, why should we treat children any differently?

The only problem with this kind of planning is I think, staff have to be a lot more open to working with the children, looking and watching and then interpreting ready for the next step. It really is about staff trining and enthusiasm for the job. :o

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I would agree Rea about staff having to really be dedicated and to believe in this system.

We had misgivings when we first started but it got easier as we went along.

 

The look on some children's faces when they learnt that they could choose resources or whatever they wanted to play with made it all worthwhile.

 

Yes, some children did try and get 5/6 puzzles out at any one time without putting any away. They have learnt not to do this and most don't now.

 

Children now realise that we are catering for their needs and desires, they learn that they are important to us and their views and opinoins are valid and will be acted upon.

 

Love it, love it, love it!!! :o

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I really agree with what everyone else has said, however I find it so hard to do in practise. This is mainly because of all the other pressures I have put on me from my school. In theory we have done away with topics, however in reality I don't think we really have. This is mostly i think because we are not really allowed to play intervene or observe the children. It gives me so many headaches. I really feel child initiated (with some adult initiated) is the way to go. But know that it needs whole staff on board including management!). We get our planning "marked" and I find it very hard to put "play intervene" etc as I know I will be criticised.

 

How do you manage to keep child initiated going throughout the week?

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Yep, we've also knocked topics on the head - but it's still very much work in progress and I still feel that we need some kind of planned focus activity each day -which we haven't got at the moment! Any advice very gratefully received!

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You can still do a focus. I was at a nursery last week where the children had free rein in the room until after snack, then they had 10 minutes in their keygroups doing an activity. The days I was there it was threading and sponge painting. The children all appeared happy to sit and join in and the staff got to observe whatever the focus was.

Do you want a focus to fill in a stepping stone or do you feel the children need more adult input? :o

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Well, I was wondering whether to do something along the lines of Peggy's planning, where she identifies particular groups of stepping stones to "concentrate on" over particulaperiods of time - to ensure coverage of all over a period of a year - and plan focus activities around those? What do you think? I think I'm probably thinking as much of the staff as the children at the moment, to develop their confidence, knowledge and skills in promoting the children's learning. I've just wrenched a huge security blanket (topics!) away from them and feel that some of them are feeling a bit lost in the land of observing the children in the different areas and planning for their interests. Does that make sense???

 

So in answer to your question, I think a bit of both! I just feel that the planning is not quite where I want it to be yet...something is missing.....

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The planning can only really come from the staffs observations, their knowledge about where the children are in their development and how they can help them move to the next step. If the staff have been used to topics, they will have got used to there being a safety blanket of things to look for. Is like a topic with s/s and elg's written down stops staff from having to really see what the children are doing. If a s/s said 'show curiosity' they knew they had to think of an activity which would make the children 'show curiosity'. Without topics they are having to watch and think 'little johnny showed curiosity then, I wonder which s/s that is and how can I extend him?'

Does that make sense? In my head it does :o

I think its a case of keeping on and eventually things will click inot place. The more the pink folder is understood the easier the obs become. And then all change for the EYFS!! xD

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So when you were in the nursery last week, what was the staff's reason/rationale for doing threading and sponge painting? Did they want to observe the development of a particular skill and did they have an individual activity plan written for those activities?

 

Sorry for all the questions - at the moment, thinking about the observation, assessment planning cycle is taking over my life! I keep taking little snippets of what lots of different people say and they're all flying round in my head - I'm hoping that at some point a light bulb will suddenly light up over my head!! :o

 

One good thing is that we are already EYFSing -so whatever we finally implement we will be able to stick with!

Edited by Wolfie
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I dont get to see the planning or necessarily get told the whys but the children were asked to make patterns. Either colours XYXY with the beads or shapes OIOIO with the sponges. There was more than just those things available at the activities though. Four staff with a small group each, but the children were all various abilities and this was reflected in what the staff asked of them or expected. One child used one bead and dangled his thread on the floor watching it spin, others were able with help to use more than 2 colours, others randomly dabbed. All the time the staff were talking about what the child was doing and helping them to see what was happening. I can only presume they afterwards marked how the children had achieved with a view to knowing who would need more help or who could be shown more complex patterns, but I dont get to see that bit either.

During the free play the staff moved around and watched, listened, joined in, helped, chatted as needed, again I presume they were taking mental notes.

 

The most important thing I would say though is, dont throw everything at planning. Its a very imprecise science and disecting it will send you gaga. (I have the scars to prove it)

Cut it down into small portions, take the lead from one or two children, you know that their needs will refelect the needs of others and work from there. If your staff are stuck give them a task, how many ways within this room can you reinforce the childrens knowledge of colour, but only when they are playing?! :o

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Hi some interesting ideas here. I am a recption teacher and really anjoy the CI idea however, at the moment i am working from topics. Does anyone think i should scrap topics in my reception class and go in the Ci diretion instead? Did it once when children were showing an interest in pirates and it was great.

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I think you need to be flexible philk. In Reception there are still so many things that need to be covered so you do need to have some direction if only what the children need to do or know. I like to have an idea of how I might develop something and go with the flow.

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Wolfie - when your light bulb comes on - could you flick my switch too!!!

 

I know exactly were your coming from, I'm finding really hard at the moment, my staff want me to tell them precisely what to do........the last manager 'spoon' fed their every move, ie she would TELL them 'today I want you to watch 'X.Y,Z' and tell me if they can 'XXXXX' When we had our ofsted this was picked up on, but we still got a good result because I'd action planned it as a recognised weak spot, but I'm having difficulty implementing the changes as I get no feedback as to whats working and what's not!!!!!!!!!!!! They take everything I say a gospel - but as it a 'work in progress' it's all very frustrating when I try to improve bits.

 

 

xxx

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Maybe they dont want to speak out louby loo. Would a confidential questionaire work? What would you change? How would you like to see your room develop? What do you ee works well? If they are used to being told what to do they may need a prompt to start thinking for themselves. :o

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