In this post I am going to be pretty honest. If you teach with themes, that doesn’t make you a crappy teacher. It is one way to teach. I however, teach differently. Now, I will get right to the chase; I don’t like weekly themes.
Reasons I Don’t Teach with Weekly Themes:
- My center isn’t set up that way
- I use an emergent curriculum
- My teaching philosophy doesn’t line up with weekly themes
I love Reggio becasue it is student-centered. It isn’t about me, it is all about the children, their needs and interests. My activities are thoughtfully planned out to spark the interest of the children. The children are in charge of their learning. Now, I do set out activities but I don’t usually do it because it is what I want to teach. I set out activities because it is something the kiddos have expressed interest in.
Right now, my kiddos are interested in pets. During free play a lot of them will crawl around barking or meowing while someone takes care of them. When we get our guided play in the morning I bring out our pets over bugs or dinosaurs while they are playing.
Montessori philosophy, similarly to Reggio, focuses on the children. It is about providing hands-on learning experiences for children to observe, explore, and learn about the world around them. Montessori is also about setting up experiences to help children master practical life skills. Practical life skills are skills that, I assume, parents and educators want children to master such as pouring, cutting, stacking, feeding oneself, manners, taking turns, cutting, gluing, sorting, kindness, writing, etc. There are many things that can be considered “life skills”. I try to bring those skills out every day, or when the opportunity presents itself.
I also think Reggio and Montessori rooms are beautiful, you can see some examples here!
When planning I use an emergent curriculum. An emergent curriculum is a curriculum that presents itself as students interests emerge hence the name, emergent curriculum. This is the curriculum I used at my internship before graduating from UW. I find that this aligns best with my beliefs on children and what they are capable of. It also is very easy to incorporate Reggio and Montessori teachings when you are planning with children’s interests at the forefront.
Combining Reggio and Montessori with an emergent curriculum leads us to a more project-based way of teaching. I thoroughly enjoy this type of learning. Rather than learning an inch deep, we are learning a mile deep. Diving into their interests to fully see the whole picture. With that, we can incorporate math, literacy, motor development, science, and most importantly – play.
Play is where we see a child’s understanding and view of what is going on in their world. We can observe common themes coming out in their play.
Now, I know what you might be thinking, you said no themes and now you’re talking about them? Yes. I use themes, but not weekly themes. Weekly themes are setting the room and centers up based on one specific topic such as penguins, dogs, doctors, winter etc. My themes are concepts that show themselves while they play such as transfer of materials, things that move, family, etc. You can read about how I let the children lead the play here.
Some of these concepts or themes present themselves through questions that are asked. Children are naturally curious, they want to know about the world. Which is why children around 2/3 ask “why” constantly. It is the parent/educators job to help answer their questions and foster their learning. Which, I know can be hard when if feels like the questions are never ending.
In future posts I will do a more in-depth look at Reggio, Montessori, and emergent curriculum.
Back to Weekly Themes
I prefer to set up areas in the room based on the children’s interests. At my internship I would arrive before the children and set up invitations that would invite children to play and explore. The theme that presented itself through that semester was water. We worked on pouring, mixing, colors, and smells with water every week. I would also set up invitations at the light table, block area, dramatic play, coloring, magnets, and lights. I moved materials around as well. Sand would be used at the light table and the regular tables. Blocks could be used in the block area, dramatic play, underneath the loft, or brought in from the big room to use in the classroom.
I don’t like weekly themes because I don’t believe that learning should be limited to one week. Learning should be ongoing every day. If I had focused on water for one week, my kiddos wouldn’t have gotten as much out of the experience. If I only allowed pet play to last one week, the kiddos, who have been playing like this for a month, wouldn’t have evolved their play. The benefits of free play far outweigh predesignated weekly topics.
I am all about making the learning meaningful and engaging for the children. If you are like me, that means going at the pace of each child and listening to their interests.
As always, thank you for reading!
If you enjoyed this, check out these other bloggers!
The Repurposed Nanny – She has bits of everything from DIY, Lifestyle, Kids, Recipes, and Decor.
Inquiring Minds – This is a kindergarten blog that also focuses on Reggio teachings. I enjoy browsing through her blog.
Please, don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss a post!