What Is a Thematic Approach?

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A thematic approach to teaching and learning is an approach where many different areas of the required curriculum are connected using a common theme. For example, a kindergarten class focusing on a beach theme might learn vocabulary for common objects on the beach, read books about the beach and do beach themed artwork.

One advantage of this system is that it allows teachers to teach multiple things at one time. By constantly making connections in the classroom, students learn how to make connections and understand how things they experience at school relate to the real world. Because students may switch between activities centered around a theme or even switch between themes, this type of curriculum provides variety and keeps students engaged. This teaching style is more student-centered than teacher-centered, and the students collectively have some choice of what they learn, which fosters community among students.

One disadvantage of this approach is that students may not be interested in the subject and may refuse to participate in the classroom community. In addition, if students miss a day they may find it very hard to make the connections that they missed. Finally, connections may be difficult to make for some students based on different cultural or academic ability. For example a child from Florida who has never seen snow will have a hard time relating to a snow-themed unit.