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Early Childhood Provocations Versus Preschool Themes

Children learn best when they can explore materials in any direction their imaginations may take them. This is why using open ended materials and activities and following the children’s interests is so important. Rather than teach lessons around a theme the teachers choose, we focus on learning our students interests and build from there. Children are less likely to struggle to pay attention and are better able to be creative and use their imaginations as they learn new things.

Provocations are built on an initial idea from the children’s interests. With each provocation – new knowledge appears. It is a process of discovery for both the teacher and the children. They learn together. It is a hands-on opportunity to explore and develop new thinking skills.

Teacher selected themes are centered around a specific topic and the children typically do not choose what they are learning. Also, there is little to no room to branch out and further the learning process. Most programs that use theme-based curriculum keep that theme restricted to a single week. Even if children are still interested in exploring the same topic, the teacher moves onto the next theme. We see this as a missed opportunity. For example, if the children are interested in building and construction and wish to continue to explore building, we continue the topic into the next week. if the children discover ants building an ant pile as we build towers outside, we will pivot. And adjust our topics to those ants. We can count them, name them, draw them, and make new hypotheses about the ants. Here at Fort Mill Cooperative Preschool, we really take the children’s interests to heart and it empowers the children to become more engaged. When children are interested, they are highly engaged. It also allows the opportunity to be creative and draw inferences from what they already know.

Here are some pictures of provocations done recently in our three year old program. The provocations also included pictures to help spark the interest of the child.

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