We offer a holistic education that reflects the diverse and connected themes of the world. Each term, we focus on one theme that threads through all subject areas, including literature, mathematics, technology, and science. For example, we’ve explored themes such as “home,” “the brain,” and “seeds” in the past.
As the globe is becoming more connected, a multi-faceted education complements children’s innate passions, enabling adaptation to unique niches. We believe that immersion into fluid, creative learning content teaches children dexterity across multiple levels of challenge, equipping them to engage with the holistic themes of life.
Learning through themes gives students an opportunity to see learning as a connected process that has application to real life. When a theme is central to learning for a given period of time, students explore it through several disciplines. This depth of learning combined with field trips and meetings with experts in the field brings more relevance to learning.
Theme-based education is a perfect fit for small and multi-age classes. Teachers are able to assess the students’ learning through a multitude of tools such as mind maps, tech projects, exploration of writing genres and experiments which form a dynamic portfolio around the theme being studied.
From a teaching perspective, common themes create collegiality amongst teachers who exchange ideas and build on each others’ experiences and apply best practices. Teachers explore mentor texts, fiction and non-fiction texts to enrich the theme. Having the freedom to create the curriculum, teachers judge the interest of the students and give it a direction that encourages meaningful learning.
Using different teaching strategies such as the circle of knowledge, compare and contrast, reading for meaning, learning for writing and inductive learning, teachers create opportunities for the Common Core Standards to be met in an organic way while encouraging critical thinking, deep reflections and hands on activities that back up students’’ hypothesis and predictions.
At Woodland Star International School Kenya students learn about three main themes in a school year (one theme per term). Themes can be metaphorical or more tangible. They are wide and encompassing and allow for branching out into various directions that meet the ages and the complexity of the students’ abilities in our school.
Here’s an example …
A theme we explored in the past was ‘Small things.’
This theme was explored by the Euphorbia Village (5-6 years old) focusing on small acts of kindness in Social Sciences. In Math they explored addition and subtraction of numbers up to 20. In Natural Sciences they learned about bees as small insects that are able to have a complex and highly organised life in a colony.
The Nandi Flame and Muhuti Villages (Primary School) studied the travel of a droplet of water in relation to this theme. In Literacy they focused on poetry as a short, but powerful, way of expression.
The older Muna Tree Village (Middle School) explored this theme in Natural Science by learning about micro-organisms, microscopic cells and atoms and molecules. In Literacy they explored symbols and in Art they zoomed in the work of Georgia O’Keefe, best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers. Fractions and negative numbers were part of their Math lessons.