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Eyfs To Theme Or Not To Theme That Is The Question?


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Hiya have just received my EYFS pack and was told by the training bod that we were not to use topics with the eyfs. however i have just clicked on a link to www.bromleycma.org.uk who are advocating just that??????

I have always used standard long/medium/short term topic lead planning but this has never been rigid and really just used as a starting idea which the children develop.

any comments?

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I used to feel that having a theme or topic to follow was essential, now I find them really restrictive and frustrating! I would love to just have little mini topics/themes that are purely introduced through following childrens different interests.

Karrie

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I don't think it matters a hoot! As long as you follow the children as far as possible and it's working it should be ok. We don't use topics, but I understand the whys and wherefores of doing so. Although, you might be surprised if you gave it a go....

 

Karrie - that's what we try to do as and when.

 

Sue

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Guest Wolfie

I think you're right Karrie - a lot of staff have been taught a topic approach as part of their initial training and don't feel at all confident when that framework is taken away, this kind of change has to be introduced slowly with plenty of discussion and ongoing support for the staff at all times.

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I think you're right Karrie - a lot of staff have been taught a topic approach as part of their initial training and don't feel at all confident when that framework is taken away, this kind of change has to be introduced slowly with plenty of discussion and ongoing support for the staff at all times.

 

 

I also agree with that Wolfie, it has taken us quite a while to get away from the 'topic/theme' thing! Some staff have adapted better then others......we had a staff meeting about this where staff could voice their 'fors & against' and we all came away feeling very positive.

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I've been there and back again so many times over the last nine years, and I think I'm somewhere in the middle now xD

We have very loose topics "in the background", and these form the basis of any books we choose to focus on, the circle time discussions, songs and action stuff, displays, etc. However, if you visited our nursery, you wouldn't really be aware of what topic we are "doing" because the children are following their interests, supported by the staff. I'm still not sure if this is a compromise or a cop-out :o

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I have been on a course today where our EY advisor said that schools will need to ditch topics when the EYFS is introduced. I didn't get a chance to ask any questions as it was an outdoor course and just said in passing.

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I think I am somewhere where Helen is - for me a broad based outline of a topic is important so that I can think about the types and subjects of books we have, the resources etc. As we are lucky enough to have a huge, huge amount of resources collected over the years we can introduce these boxes throughout the year - besides its an easy way of keeping everything together. I have probably about 20 large topic boxes that include books, resources, puppets, materials etc and then I have loads of other boxes that can come out which are general construction etc - putting the two together can make for some wonderful play. I think having a topic is more important to me than it is to the children. They are always keen to explore but I could not bring it all out everyday - often they will ask for the dinosaur box, or the farmyard box once they know aobut it.

Nikki

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I've been there and back again so many times over the last nine years, and I think I'm somewhere in the middle now :(

We have very loose topics "in the background", and these form the basis of any books we choose to focus on, the circle time discussions, songs and action stuff, displays, etc. However, if you visited our nursery, you wouldn't really be aware of what topic we are "doing" because the children are following their interests, supported by the staff. I'm still not sure if this is a compromise or a cop-out :(

 

 

I think you have the balance right, I am very much for following childrens interests and do so for the majority of the session, devising, in a sense, mini topics that I know they will embrace and learn from. I also 'plan' learning, using topics to support the learning, such as books, topics that children may not have been introduced to such as road safety. Certain times of year such as september 'getting to know each other' PSE based topics. Maybe it is the word 'topic' that is the problem, think of it as 'titles' or 'headings' that encompass areas of learning that we need to introduce that may not manifest themselves from the children.

 

I am guessing that the EYFS is against 'topics' being planned one year in advance, which we all know is done but can be uninspirational and 'out of context' for the children. How many 'topics' on the forum are started with " I am doing such and such topic, need inspiration....any ideas". To me if the 'teacher' isn't inspired how can we engage the children??

 

Let's just ban the 'word' topic and trust the teachers professional judgement, knowledge of their children and ability to deliver their own personal inspirational ideas inspired by their own knowledge base, skills and interests and the interests and needs that they know of their children. :o Lets just call it planning the curriculum. xD

 

Peggy

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  • 3 weeks later...
Hiya have just received my EYFS pack and was told by the training bod that we were not to use topics with the eyfs. however i have just clicked on a link to www.bromleycma.org.uk who are advocating just that??????

I have always used standard long/medium/short term topic lead planning but this has never been rigid and really just used as a starting idea which the children develop.

any comments?

 

 

Hi everyone

My name is Sarah i am the pre-school roomleader for the 3-4 year olds within a private day nursery.

In reply to the question to using topics i use them but i adapt planned topics and incorperate activities that i can see the children are interested in.

For example the children in my group our interested in the enviroment ,recycling, wildlife, and resently volcanoes.

So i change what i had planned previoulsy and happly follow the childrens enthusiasum. children learn better when they our enjoying themselves. i also delibretly place in my yearly plan topics i know my chidren will enjoy.

I had food and drink down for January but this became i mini topic as the childrens excitment at taking part in THE BIG BIRD WATCH grew. we centered on birds we joined the RSPB ,we created a wildlife garden, all initiated by the children themselves.

Last year the children demonstrated interest and passion for recycling, so i promised the children that i would add this in to this years topics.

The children loved it, making recyle boxes, telling their parent of for placing items in the wrong bin.

The children even wrote to the goverment and recived an offical reply each child got a written letter from parliment this lead to the nursery reciving a green wheelie bin for recycling paper, the chidren were very proud of their acheivements.

But i think that you still need to add planned topic that the children would not think of themselves

Such as cultural festivals, religious celebrations both from home and abroad the children don't atomaticaly know about such areas.

We have to cover multicultural areas and the children benefit from this broading of knowledge of the world around them

( Sense of place, sense of community , culture and beliefs) and of thier own traditions and culture things they may not know about thier own region, country that will be of interest

To give the childen a grounding in their knowledge and understanding that leads to thier growth and individual interets and prefrences. They do need to be introduced and planned for example divali you have to plan and implement this when the divali celebration actually takes place this incoperates (sense of time).

I find planning can help fill in gaps in areas that i observe the children need to cover.

As a private nursery with a large preschool the children do not get to go out on many trips due to ratios.

I centered are last topic jobs and carers around getting out and about visiting places of work and involving parents another thing ofsted requires. The parents helped us out with the ratio problem and enjoyed seeing what their children do at nursery The children loved having thier parents invoved and learnt a great deal from the topic. this also covered the areas that we where lacking on (sense of community, sense of place)

This needed a lot of planing to work so not everything can be as and when, there has to be a balance between what the children initiate and what is planned and what needs to be covered.

Sorry for any spelling mistakes im usless at typing words in the correct order im not computer savvy.

Sarah

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Sarah,

That all sounds wonderful - how exciting to get letters back from parliament!

 

It just shows that the children really do have a grasp on real life issues, and with support and guidance from staff, rather than being led into topics that are not of interest, you can achieve so much and it means so much more to the children. They will be able to build on the knowledge from this and use it in other play experiences, talk to parents and carers about it and seek their own learning opportunities.

 

I think that you're right in saying that we should factor in areas where the children would not have an existing understanding, such as cultural or religious festivals, but they should still be presented at their level and in a context that they can understand - relating it to other things that happen in their lives i.e. birthdays, parties etc.

 

I don't suppose you have any copies of the planning formats that you are willing t share, as I'm sure that they will help forum users see how you relate adult-planned and child-initiated planning to BTTM/ELGs.

 

Keep up the good work!

 

RB x

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  • 2 weeks later...
Hiya have just received my EYFS pack and was told by the training bod that we were not to use topics with the eyfs. however i have just clicked on a link to www.bromleycma.org.uk who are advocating just that??????

I have always used standard long/medium/short term topic lead planning but this has never been rigid and really just used as a starting idea which the children develop.

any comments?

 

I am spending my holiday ploughing through the EYFS and thinking about things I need to do/change. On card 3.2 (those cards really drive me nuts - soooooo patronising) under the 'Working together' heading it says:

 

'A setting which recognises the needs of every child plans learning journeys which are suitable for groups but flexible enough to cater for individual pathways along the way.'

 

To my mind that suggests that you can do themes/topics/learning journeys but you need to differentiate things. Um - isn't that what we've done all along?

 

I can see why someone could interpret things as 'we're not allowed to do topics any more' because of the way that the guidance keeps banging-on about 'individual learning journeys'. This is what happens when things are vague and airy-fairy. I wish they'd either tell us EXACTLY what they want: you will teach this then and then that OR just let us get on and do our jobs.

 

Here finishes my rant for today.

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This is a really interesting thread and full of some super ideas. I think that some children's interests are predictable and I like the idea of a vague overall theme such as following the seasons and providing enhancements for fixed things such as Christmas, but within these going with the flow of the children's interests.

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On card 3.2 (those cards really drive me nuts - soooooo patronising) under the 'Working together' heading it says:

 

'A setting which recognises the needs of every child plans learning journeys which are suitable for groups but flexible enough to cater for individual pathways along the way.'

 

To my mind that suggests that you can do themes/topics/learning journeys but you need to differentiate things. Um - isn't that what we've done all along?

 

From my understanding, the learning journey is tailored to the needs of the child or group i.e. developing social skills, developing fine motor skills, increasing awareness of letters in the environment...

 

Topics/themes are more of an overarching thing - seasons, holidays, animals etc, and the problem lies where these are planned in advance - a whole year/term/half term - and are 'imposed' on the children rather than listening to and observing what the children are actually interested in i.e. dinosaurs, dressing up, building towers.

 

No-one can predict what a child is going to be interested in as things may have happened at home or on the way to nursery that has sparked their imagination - seeing a fire engine, going to the post office, splashing in a puddle... but when they get to the setting they have to 'follow the planning' and do leaf pictures (a crude example, but I think you get where I'm coming from)

 

The learning journey is great in theory, but I fear that it could massively increase paperwork by having lots of observations and individual plans to show that you are not doing adult-led but child-initiated activities.

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I am guessing that the EYFS is against 'topics' being planned one year in advance, which we all know is done but can be uninspirational and 'out of context' for the children. How many 'topics' on the forum are started with " I am doing such and such topic, need inspiration....any ideas". To me if the 'teacher' isn't inspired how can we engage the children?? peggy

 

 

I really do agree with that thought - and have thought the same when I hear the plea for inspiration!

 

I think of themes as loose headings which can provide children with experiences and input they may otherwise not get - I think the themes we develop - with the children's input - can widen their horizons and expand their thinking. HOWEVER I firmly believe that analysis of your assessments is absolutely necessary to identify next steps and out of this themes might arise that will support those next steps as a context to work in. I did this activity with a team recently and after discussing general strengths and areas not covered they were really surprised to find that an overarching theme naturally came out of that which would be a useful vehicle to ensure the next term's curriculum was developed from where the children currently were and from identifying gaps. This wasn't on their "plan" but they were much more excited in planning activities for the children once the underpinning learning was clear, and also the activities were really easy to generate because they were devising activities to meet the children's needs rather than drag the children to the pre-agreed curriculum. The key knack is using our knowledge of child development to make sure we can present adult directed input in a way that presses the right buttons and inspires interest and engagement.

 

 

Alongside that there is much that the children bring in which can be developed too and fed into the mix. I don't think of it as either/or, both approaches if done with the knowledge of how young children learn best can be effective. Slavish adherence to a repeated "topic" with absolutely no use of assessment for learning is a complete waste of everyone's time.

 

The act of teaching and learning is a two way process - both adult and child bring things to the mix and the skilled practitoner is able to spin magic out of that.

 

long term planning in the guidance (on the cdrom) is described as providing "a structure" to help you

1) ensure you cover all areas of learning and devt and the principles

2) identify links between the areas of learning

3) think about how you balance activities across the day and the space

4) identify the key areas for supporting babies and young children

5) for older children, think about the balance of opportunities for supporting children to benefit from a wide range of play activities and well planned interesting adult led activities

 

"MTP is anything from 2 - 6 weeks and generally outlines.... types of experiences and activities appropriate to your group of children supporting different eyfs principles" and " planning for observations and assessment to further evaluate individual needs"

 

Short term planning "enables much more focus on what specific needs the children have and how these will be met"

 

It's the in depth pages from the effective practice section I think from memory.

CX

Edited by catma
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Hi guys, haven't been on for ages as really busy but saw this on the newsletter and had to pop in to read the thread!

I am an accredited childminder and at a recent monitoring visit from the network co-ordinator was asked what my theme was at the moment. When I said I didn't have one she looked horrified! The thing is though, we have different children on different days and varying in age from 1-13! We tend to go with what the childrne are interested ina dn if it develops into a bit of a theme then we go with it! For example before the summer they decided they wanted to do a night/day display (we do haev a display board but it can be anything on there!!) which we duly started but halfway throught they really lost interest so we scrapped it and after a trip to the Science Museum, dinosaurs have taken over. Works for us, we find that learning can and does happen at all times so we tend to look at what has been learnt over the week, see what we can extend and where any gaps are that we need to encourage them towards and that's it. BUT we are in our own home with a small number of children and we can.

When I ran a pre-school it was very different. As someone else has said, the staff sometimes need the security of a topic so I planned around one more for them really! How sad is that.

I have only had a briefing for hte new EYFS so far so I'll be really intereted to hear what our area is advocating.....

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I think that's the point - the way a childminder might work as described above is effective and responsive to a small group in a home environmnet - the way a reception teacher in a through primary with ratios of 1 - 30 or 15 if lucky will be different and need some strands or focus to pull all those learning journeys together so they can be managed reasonably and still be effective. I don't think children I have taught have suffered because we had "themes" - as long as we are responsive to their interests also and enable those as practicable.

Cx

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