Approaches to child-centric themes

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By Fe Luton

There are a wonderful, almost endless array of topics that could be used to provide context within the EYFS. But, if I’m honest, I tend to choose and reuse the same ones, again and again: topics that I enjoy, that I know inside out, or that I happen to have some ‘all singing, all dancing’ resources for.

On one level, there is no problem with this. I always choose topics I think the children will like, and most of the time they do. However, we know from experience (and plenty of research) that interest and ownership are key factors in driving motivation. The more our children can be involved in their own learning and the contexts in which it takes place, the more likely they are to be interested and engaged, willing to take risks and be creative.

With this in mind, perhaps we need to find ways to allow our children to have an input at topic level too, moving from teacher-imposed to child-centric themes.


Girl with musical instruments

In practice, this might mean focusing your topics and themes on what your children want to explore, or have previously shown an interest in.

It might also mean working a little more to the children’s timetable. A child-centric theme may only last a day or a week… or a month or more – often their timescales don’t fit neatly into a 6- or 7-week half term.

It might feel like a daunting step to take, but here are a few of my suggestions to help you start along the path towards a child-centric approach:


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