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Themes Or Not Themes


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Have had a few meetings with managing director, training coordinator and the preschool teacher of the centre I'm at now all about how we're going to plan when the new EYFS comes into action.

 

The MD agreed with me that there probably isn't going to be room for planning with themes as themes are adult led and the majority of what we should be doing should be child led.

 

The preschool teacher disagreed as she thinks the children get alot out of themes and she used the example that a few months ago they did a theme on space, this really caught the childrens attention and by the end they were talking bout aliens etc etc, without the introduction of the theme by the adult none of this learning would have taken place!!!

 

Iget that we can do themes if there is something that the children are interested in, such as if there was a building site or whatever, but there was no interest from the children to do the space theme yet once it was introduced they loved it and got alot out of it!!!

 

any comments????

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I think it is about a balance of the two...we use themes to introduce a subject but it does not take over the whole planning.

 

by introducing a theme and following the direction the children take it, we feel you can be child led. As said if you don't introduce a child to something how do you know if they are or could be interested in it.

As an extreme... If all were completely child led we would not be able to incorporate the multicultural festivals unless you have children in the setting who are participating in them, and only then if the child actually told you about it.

 

Visitors to our setting find it hard to notice what theme is being followed as it starts as one idea and then changes with the children depending on what they show interest in.

 

Think it also depends a bit on the children at the time and many other factors,

 

Inge

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Good points so far!

 

Our approach of following the children, if nothing obvious then a very loose theme to kick start things, was well received last week by Ofsted Inspector - she took on board what we said about a lot depending on the children at the time. She felt it was important that the children's voices were seen to be 'heard'.

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My question is, could the children have learnt what they learnt during the 'space' theme during any other interest that they themselves were pursuing? Did they learn the adults perception of space or did they think about and discover their own perception of space? Lets remember we start from what the child already knows, then embrace their imagination, which gives them self worth in valuing their ideas/thoughts and empowers them to use their imagination, which empowers innovative thought.

 

What I mean is that with imagination, adults can introduce any of the 6 learning areas, and the 5 outcomes into any interest a child/ children shows.

 

My long term plan aimed to fit the aspects of the curriculum into the childrens interests, ie: take the learning to the child, rather than fit the aspects to a theme, take the child to the learning. Does that make sense??

 

My Ofsted report said that the children were 'purposeful in their play', were engrossed in their interests' yet followed to say that 'they were not learning' I argued this to say that the staff's interaction enabled the children to learn any aspect of the curriculum whilst they were engaged in their purposeful play.

 

I think themes of culture and diversity can be addressed by extended the childs exploration of their own culture, which they display everyday, as they live it, it doesn't necessarily mean your need to have a 'seperate' topic/theme to introduce different cultures, just use comparisons, which makes it more in the childs relevant context. ie: we celebrate New Year- link this with any other cultures 'new year' celebration. Many of our ethical values are the same or similar to other cultures, so they can be linked easily. Good over evil etc.

Many cultural foods can be explored with without having to have a particular theme to 'introduce' them, to actually place different foods within a theme actually makes it a tokenistic approach, do we only explore chinese food during chinese new year? why not throughout the year, at any time. I know I enjoy chinese food at any time of year. etc etc.

 

 

Peggy

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We use themes and I think, will continue to do so. As Sue R said it is a kick start, a starting point to learning. It can't all be child initiated, or we might as well put them all in a big room, stand back and make sure no one gets hurt.

When they go to school they will be working within themes, while incorporating literacy, science and maths, etc.

Our themes are very broad. For example , last year we planned for “in the air”, we had a role play airplane and travel agent ready to go.

Someone brought in the book ‘Dogs in Space’, which took the children’s imagination and we ended up exploring the planets. We had the whole solar system on the ceiling, build a rocket and made spacesuits, travelled through the cosmos everyday. The children still remember their favourite planets, how close they are to the sun and how far they are from the planet they live on. This may have come up from the children at some point, but a focus helps.

Anyway that is my two peny worth.

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Hi - difficult one isn't it!! I think the current emphasis on child initiated learning, letting the children lead the direction we take is the corrrect way forward, but I do think that Themes have a discrete place alongside this. Really I am just echoing what others have said.We need to respond to acknowledge and react to children's own interests and experiences but we also need to extend and broaden their experiences, or at least give them opportunities for doing so. Especially, in settings where children may come from a very wide range of social backgrounds, using themes may provide an avenue for children to develop new interests and concepts which they may not have otherwise done so; or where family issues, resources or parenting skills may provide a barrier. The multicultural festival was a good example of where a theme has a place.

 

But then ... I could be wrong... I often am !! xx

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  • 1 month later...

I don't use themes as such anymore. I believe there are plenty of opportunities throughout the year through, weather, seasonal changes, festivals, and events to plan activities from as a very broad theme.

We then plan from the individual to meet each child's interests and needs so have a lot more variation on activities throughout the year.

My personal opinion is that themes can be restrictive for both the children and adults and when planning for individual children activities can be introduced that are much more open and interesting.

Anne

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it is a problem isnt it - we try not to use themes now - but sometimes children need a kick start - our ofsted inspection today agreed with this and as long as we were planning and showed progression for individual children - was happy (no long term palns any more - yerrrr) :o

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it is a problem isnt it - we try not to use themes now - but sometimes children need a kick start - our ofsted inspection today agreed with this and as long as we were planning and showed progression for individual children - was happy (no long term palns any more - yerrrr) xD

such good news you shared it twice!

 

Interesting about the long term plan - I had a visit from our Foundation Stage Team today. One of the questions she asked me was where was my long term plan? (mind you she also was really shocked that we have glass vases for the flowers on our snack table. They aren't allowed glass, apparently :o )

 

Maz

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  • 3 weeks later...

as im a childminder the ways i do it as i obsever the children every 2 weeksand do the next step i then also do an Indervidual play plan for each child most of them lest for 3 months some a shorter depading on the child i try to do one of the activites on the play plan a week for each child

 

we also do a little theme aswell meianly what the children are intested in

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elle after going around in circles I am moving towards your idea of using a theme to kick start and I was wondering if you could tell me what themes you use. We have a high number of SEN children and they need lots of adult interaction and my gut feeling is that I would be limiting their experiences if I abandonded theme/topic work.

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themes or no themes dont think there is a out right answer "yes or no". I think it depends on the staff and children, in some settings a kick start is needed to help get the ideas flowing other settings are so full of ideas that a theme probably limits the imagination

 

we regularly need a kickstart! so we have an interest table with articles on that theme and it can lead to all sorts of topic ideas the seasons and festivals are often the staring point then the children take it from there

 

 

dont want to take this subject off track but I want to say to Maz on the subject of glass vases -

years ago I worked in a stiener school for children with special needs and they had glass cups and plates and every meal time one of the children would have a tantrum and smash some plates and I asked why dont we used plastic cups and plates? and the answer I got was "children need to learn that things break!!!" (and I think reggio has the same thoughts?) so to say no glass in preschool when children can use scissors, climbing frames, some settings have hammers and saws, its not like the children are carrying the vases around the room!?!?!

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Guest cathy m

Hi Maz

 

I wouldn't worry about the glass vase, many of my local children's centres have now changed over to proper crockery, cutlery and glasses and also use the real thing in role play areas

 

Cathy

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Hi we use themes loosley in my setting and it works for us. On top of our core activities in our topic keyworkers are also working with individuals interests and needs. I just wondered about schools as my local primary school has themes which they follow. Does it relly matter if there are themes as long as children are happy and their interests and needs are being met?!>

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We've got a theme for next term (nursery rhymes) which we're still going to use. Come September... hmm. We haven't had whole setting training in EYFS yet but have started to think about the planning side. At the moment, our themes are more likely to be very loose, just seasonal and calendar based. I'm looking forward to it.

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I have become a preschool manager, for the time being I am going to use the last 2 topics that is on the long term plan for this year. From September I am not sure what we are going to do, some of the staff are new to early years and awaiting training in NVQ2. Both myself and the deputy are thinking of working something around 'loose' topics with the caldender of festvials but this as yet to be decided.

 

I am not even going to think about it until July as I have got tooo much to do before then.

 

Beth

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If anyone would be so kind as to list their themes, I would really appreciate it!

I am currently on maternity leave so have not been in school really since last July. I am going back for the last half term but had an interview a couple of weeks ago and got the job. I'm now a foundation stage phase leader.

My new headteacher has made it clear that she wants an outstanding early years OFSTED - dont we all???!!! and Im really worried about where to start with it all. New school children, staff, plans, setting, resources etc. Im also going from reception to nursery having never taught in nursery before!

My god, what have I taken on???? :o

kel x

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Welcome kellys and good luck!

 

Have you looked in the resource library (on left hand side of screen) at the topic support section.

 

That should give you plenty of ideas of what to do.

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Welcome to the Forum kellys

 

Don't do topics/themes so I can't help much - but Shelley's suggestion of looking in the resource section is great.

 

Good luck - and congratulations on the new job!

 

Maz

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the most of Autumn Term was "building" - cos we had builders in making our new classroom next door! we have just finished "Traditional Stories & Rhymes", "Spring" this half term, then "Minibeasts". "All about me" for newbies in September, "winter/Christmas" Very Loosely!!!!!

 

We will probably go off on several tangents, especially as we are in a new space and will have to design our outdoor area. So anything could happen

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