At Sticky Fingers Pre-School we use schemas as part of our observation methods which in turn allows us to plan for the individual child.
What actually is a schema?
A schema is a pattern of behaviour – the way a child behaves. As parents I am sure you have wondered: why does my child love water and love flooding the floor, why does she love dropping everything, why does he love emptying boxes of toys all over the floor? Schemas may be part of the answer!
At what age do schemas start?
Schemas begin from birth. Initially schemas are very simple but they will develop rapidly if they are supported. Research has shown that brain paths develop faster when connections are supported; schemas are a way of supporting children and extending their learning.
Who told us about schemas?
Schemas were first identified by Piaget a childhood theorist his work has been further developed by the work of Chris Athey during the 1970`s. Additional research has now been undertaken about how children learn and how their brains develop, because schemas follow interests they can develop high levels of concentration and learning in children.
How do they work?
A child will have an area in which they are mainly interested at any one time. To learn about how this interest works they will repeat an action over and over again until they understand about this interest. If adults can tune into the child’s interest we can support a child to develop their knowledge and extend their interest so further increasing the knowledge. It has been known for many years that we learn from doing, when a child is repeating an action they are learning from what they are doing. In addition to repeating an action a child will look for other ways to explore their interest.
What are these schemas?
There are many schemas, many children will show a dominate schema but may have many schemas. Many children enjoy repeating an activity but a child with a schema will show a definite way of behaviour. Some of the more common schemas are :
The child will be interested in how things and themselves move. It is very common eg babies love to drop things from their highchairs. A child may like to throw things, push things in a straight line, runs around, play with running water. To support we can provide balls, bubbles, slides and bikes, water and sand.
A child with this schema moves everything from place to place. They may move objects continually. To support provide a collection of bags and boxes, pasta and other items to transport.
This child will love enveloping himself and objects or space. It is related to enclosure schema. They may love to wrap everything, make parcels, cover their hands with paint. To support you could provide blankets, dressing up clothes, paper.
This child will enjoy creating spaces which they may or may not put objects or themselves into. They will like putting things in pots, filling up boxes, drawing pictures and putting circles around them. To support you could provide containers, dry play, tents.
This child loves to play with wheels. They love anything that rotates or are circular. They love wheels, spinning, watching the washing machine. To support provide bikes, mixing and stirring activities, windmills.
Children love to scatter objects i.e. tipping all their toys onto the floor. They may use their arms or legs to scatter objects and may enjoy wiping objects off of a surface. To support provide bean bags, put toys onto mats or in trays.
There are many more, i.e. “on top” “positioning” “connecting” but the above list is to give you a taster. If you would like further information please ask.