Here at Birch Farm we support children's leaning and development by observation and planning for them as individuals, One of the key things we observe for is their schematic interests.
What is a schema?
A schema is a pattern of behaviour. Children can and generally do have several schemas that they are interested in at any one time, but commonly have one dominant schema that will remain with them into adulthood.
When do schemas begin?
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.
How do we know 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 schemas 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.
When a baby is dropping things from a high chair repeatedly they are exploring vertical trajectories or up and down schemas, this can be extended by showing them a yo-yo on a string or lifting them up and down,
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.
When a toddler carries everything to you they may be exploring transporting of items, giving them bags and trucks they can put things in will support this. Extensions can be made by encouraging them to help with the shopping in the supermarket or going on a picnic Older children may become interested in how people are transported and trips could be made to an airport of train station maps could be drawn showing how we get to places. Supporting children in areas they are interested will enable them to continue their interest. Schemas can be seen in children’s play and artwork as well as seen in body language and heard in speech.
How many schemas are there?
There are many schemas and the following table may help you to recognise and support your child's schema. Children's schemas will grow and develop with them and a dominate schema will still be evident in adulthood.