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No Themes Or Topics


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How many settings have scrapped the use of using themes and topics. I am a great believer in doing activities that are purely child initiated. If it is raining lets get wellies on and play in the rain and not do painting just because our plans say so. If members do use this method how do you write it down as evidence and so called plans that ofsted want to see.

 

thanks

 

angela

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I have no problems with either approach, if the children want to go off at a tangent, they do so!!

 

Ofsted also, in my experience, have been equally liberated and child-friendly - after all, they too should be professionals that know what it's all about. If they don't seem to, try getting them involved!!!

 

Sorry, maybe I've been lucky with Inspectors, but that is honestly my experience of them!

 

We use themes and topics so that something is 'down' until such time as the children 'take flight', as it were. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't - depends on the children and their dynamics!!

 

When the children take over, we just write it down, as a narrative, with a sort of evaluation, that is , a personal view of what has happened (Observation??) and accounts of different children's experience - Keyworkers ahoy!!- and present it as such, with all the other stuff. It works for us!! We're the ones in there with the children..........

 

 

 

Sue :D

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This is something I have toyed with but have never had the confidence to do. I sometimes find topics a distraction, as you often end up planning around them rather than thinking about the developmental needs of the children. The longer I have been in my job, the less reliant I have become on topics. I have particularly noticed this with my new assistant who is really keen, but ends up losing sight of what we're trying to plan for. I think the important thing is to be really on top of your observations and assessments of your children and show that what you are providing is targeting them in the right way - if that makes sense!! Topics are just a means to an end. Children also respond well if you can make links in their learning - this doesn't have to start with an adult initiated topic though. :) Sorry, now I feel like I'm rambling...... :o

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Hi Angela,

I think Sue and Beau have neatly summed this up! (I was tucked up in bed way before either of them or you posted!) Obviously what you do will depend on your setting and on the children involved and in a school, the setting in which I am most used to working the dynamics are very different but essentially the topic should be there to support you, to give you a direction to achieve in a meaningful way with the children.

 

Some activities or experiences need to be planned for, how does a child know drawing can be fun if you dont offer the opportunity or a trip to the seaside etc?

But it should not be set in stone and when other things whatever they might be occur, you should be able to be flexible enough to take advantage of them!

 

So forget the painting, get the wellies out and go! Paint rainy day pictures on your return or even take the paint out with you? Capitalise on the here and now and save tomorrow for the other things!

 

Have fun! :D

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Hi

 

I have been thinking about the idea of not planning around topics, but I am not brave enough to do it. I know my staff and committe would support the idea if we decided to go for a change.

 

At the moment we have a two year rolling programe of themes and medium and short term planning is based around each half terms theme. I start with the ELG's/stepping stones and plan activites to fit in with them, some of which are connected to the theme. If activities/equipment do not fit into the theme then we still have them out on a rota basis.

 

I know alot of groups around my area plan to the areas of learning rather then a theme and I will contact them to see how they do it.

 

 

Carol

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I decided not to plan to topics last term, and the response from our EYPDC worker was 'oh great, my manager will be so plased you've thought of this'. Unfortunatly I've got one member of staff in particular who relys fairly heavily on knowing what we're doing each day, so while I let the children lead I also have something on paper. This half term we're doing 'parties' but as the children were running round being fire engines today we went with that. As I'm leaving in July though it's not something I'm pushing too much as they will have to devise a method they are all happy with come September. :D

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I think so long as your Long Term Planning is sound you do not need to plan around a topic. we all spend far too long trying to find songs and activities that are in some way linked. I think we should always have plans for the day but be prepared to drop them if something exciting happens.

The first day of our Ofsted inspection was the start of a heat wave in the summer so on Monday morning the Lead Inspector decided he would start with the nursery, he arrived at 9:15 just as I told the children we were going straight out into the garden to enjoy the sunshine after weeks of rain they were ecstatic ~ he told me later on in the week if he had found us all inside he would have disapproved, but because our long term planning was excellent he could see we had everything covered.

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thanks everyone for your responses. There seems to be a lot of mixed feelings on the subject. Someone mentioned we spend alot of time finding songs and activities to work with our topics. This is what I get fed up with every time I plan for my topic. Someone else mentioned rolling programmes of topics over two years. I do not agree with them as they do not take the childrens current interests into consideration. I think perhaps a good way might be to have a broad theme such as transport them let the children develop this further rather than we are talking about cars this week.

I look forward to some more ideas.

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Funny you mention Transport Angela, as our topic title is transport for this term - I think it's quite nice to present a broad area like this to the children & then see where they take it. Last year we got into cars, made a garage etc etc, this year it's aeroplanes they got into, we're doing some simple timelines of aircraft, making an airport & there's lots of finding out about different places - China & Austria are the favourites at the moment!!! (no idea why, it just seems to have caught their imagination) They are also really into packing a suitcase for the baby to go on holiday & we've thought a lot about what we need to pack & why. None of these ideas were mine, they just picked it up & took off with it - and so it's not boring doing the topic again as it's so different to last year!! :D

 

Dianne

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thanks dianne I think this is the sort of planning i am looking for. How do you provide evidence and show plans. Do you write down what you have done at the end of the day or as you go along.

 

My foundation stage children i have the elg's i want to cover. how do you link the elg's to the activities if you do not know what you will be doing.

 

angela

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I'm not sure my answer is a very good one Angela, because I use some medium term plans that I inherited from my previous teacher when I'm writing up my plans (mostly the night before an activity as so much arises from the previous day, but occasionally in arrears if something interesting came up that day). So I tend to 'shoehorn' my writing up of the plans to fit the ELG's that are stated in the Med Term Plan. It's a bit of a pencil & paper exercise, but generally I cover all that needed to be done and more, so I get away with it!!!

 

Hope someone else can come up with a better answer, :o Dianne

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  • 3 weeks later...

I now try and incorporate a "no planning day", every two to three weeks. Tomorrow happens to be one of them - I have no theme - no set stepping stones/elgs. I put out an array of toys and see where it takes us. All the staff make loads of observations on these days as they don't feel under any pressure to ensure that the activities have a predetermined stepping stone/elg. It is always a very relaxed session with no pressures on the children or staff. Children take on their own learning and it works brilliantly - much better than some of the sessions I have spent hours pouring over detailed plans/elgs - not so sure I could do this every day but it always makes a nice end to half term.

Nikki

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