The thematic approach is a way of teaching and learning where many areas of the curriculum are connected together and integrated within a theme. Rather than learning different skills at different points of time or learning different subjects, children are helped to make meaningful connections through a theme and explore different topics or aspects within the theme.(NCFFS-147)
What is Theme-based Approach at Foundational Stage ?
A theme is defined as an overarching idea/topic that guides the development of specific learning experiences. Children explore a topic through different modes for a long period of time rather than learning different subjects for shorter periods. We can look at it as the common thread that is used to weave learning experiences together.
Children explore various aspects of the themes not as isolate discrete concepts but as processes that take place in real life situations. It makes experiences relatable, contextualized and concrete for children. It helps children in developing an integrated understanding about the topic.
The theme provides familiar situations on which new knowledge can be built. Each theme comes with immense possibilities of learning for children. Any event, idea, object, relationship, or experience within the theme can be imagined as a base for building a learning experience.
Within the theme, children explore topics about themselves, their interests, relationships and interactions with people, objects in the environment. They ask questions to understand these better, explore, experiment, experience and thus build on their already existing knowledge.
Examples of some themes are: My Home, My Neighbourhood, My Garden, My School, Market, Fields and Forests, Hills and Mountains, Rivers and Oceans, Vehicles. All themes have sub-themes
within them so that children can explore different aspects within themes.
- a. Children are at the centre of the themes. When the focus is on children, the curriculum as well as the Teacher will focus on helping children connect learning experiences to their life.
- b. Knowledge and learning will not hang in isolation but will be connected to children’s everyday life experiences.
- c. The diversity of contexts and children’s personal experiences is integral to planning the learning experiences within the themes.
- d. The process is more significant than the product in this learning journey.
Role of Teacher
e. The role of the Teacher is that of a facilitator who mediates the process of learning. Some experiences may emerge out of children’s interests and are facilitated by Teachers. Other experiences may be Teacher-initiated with enough opportunities of decision-making and exploration for children. Children and Teacher have the creative freedom to explore various ideas/strands within the sub-themes.
The theme and the sub-themes provide a concrete base for children to make sense of experiences so that they can make connections/generalizations to other experiences and eventually build on
more abstract ideas. Children develop new concepts, practice new skills, build dispositions and have emotional experiences in each sub-theme.
Example of Theme Based Approach at Foundational Stage
Sub-theme: What is happening in the kitchen?
Young children are quite fascinated by the kitchen. The smell of the food, the different utensils and the cooking processes attract them. Often parents or grandparents will talk to children in the kitchen area as they to cook the food. A lot of sharing happens around the kitchen area. So, we see that the kitchen is already a meaningful space for children.
They are learning a lot of things too. They learn about the physical properties of different objects in the kitchen- using all their senses to gain knowledge about these objects. The apply different skills to draw relationships between the objects like using skills of seriation to place spoons from biggest to smallest or categorize the different food items. While doing so they are also building scientific and mathematical concepts through inquiry and experimentation.
They also learn about and question gender roles through concrete experience of how these cooking and caring roles are taken up in their families. They are also building dispositions and are relating to these experiences emotionally.
Reference and Excerpt
National Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stage-2022