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Topics/themes ?


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As we are looking into new planning ideas I seem to be coming across settings that have pre planned topics/themes/interests for each term , perhaps called medium term planning.

With all the changes perhaps I missed something but I was under the impression that for the last few years at least, themes/topics were discouraged as they arent ( although maybe ) child initiated enough ???

Any one use them in planning currently and have Ofsted commented on them ??

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I use them in our current planning but not strict themes as such.

I plan loosely on events and seasons mainly and enhance our continuous provision

So after half term, St George's day - looking at dragons, castles and knights

May day - flowers, maypole, dancing and music.

I do this as our medium term plan - which I know is not necessary now but I look at each half term and plan around the events. I think child intiaited planning is the best way to plan, but it is also good to introduce new ideas and activities that the children haven't thought of as well. As they are loosely planned if the children take the planning else where that is fine we follow their interest instead, but this way we have activities ready for them to fill the gaps.

I am awaiting our ofsted so not sure what they will say, but as trends change so often it's hard to keep up!!

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It's just a framework to provide a context for learning. Some use it some don't. Ofsted won't be that bothered unless it is getting in the way of actual learning.

Key questions:

  • Are children making good progress from their starting points regardless of your themes?
  • Are you planning for learning using the topic not just focused on doing the topic? (Children will not fail in life because they didn't "do" a topic on dinosaurs for example. They will if they don't get the skills of communication which dinosaurs might help them with.)
  • Are you missing learning that sits outside of the theme and is therefore disregarded?

Personally I quite like an overarching context for learning (Can I trade mark that?!!). But I worry when the professionals become a slave to the topic. Or repeat endlessly without considering the needs of the current cohort of children in front of them.

Cx

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Totally agree with Catma. The "WE MUST NOT DO TOPICS" idea came from the advice that the curriculum that we offer children should be LEARNING based not ACTIVITY based e.g. in the past some settings would think of a topic, brainstorm as many activities as they could think of and the learning was outlined once the activities were decided upon - with little consideration as to the children's next steps. You have to decide for yourself how you feel your setting would work best. Remember that a topic does not have to take over, other interests can also be included and you can use the children's ideas about the topic to allow them to have ownership of it and take it in their own direction.

Have fun xxx

Edited by green hippo
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We run topics but our topics are based on what the children have been into during the previous term.

 

Perfect example is this terms topic is "fantasy and fairy tales" because many of our children have been playing witches and wizards, and princesses and knights.

 

Turned our role play area into a castle and the underneath of it (it's a 2 level structure) is going to be a witches cave.

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