Exploring Schematic Learning

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Unlocking the Essence of Schemas

In the enchanting realm of early childhood development, schemas play a vital role in shaping a child’s understanding of the world around them and the way things work. Picture them as the delightful URGE within all children: a compelling force guiding them to explore, question, discover, and learn through repeated patterns of behaviour.

Each child has a distinctive and unique way of learning, with some showcasing a prolific dominant schema, others expressing a cluster of these patterns, and some embarking on a completely unique journey with no evident schemas at all. Through embracing this diversity, we as educators, parents, and caregivers, can take a deeper look to understand children’s motivations, interests, and the ‘why’ behind their actions.

Fostering Understanding

In the collaborative world of early education, parent partnership is vital in providing children with the best care possible. This is partnership and unity is at the core of our nursery, and we work closely with all our parents to ensure we understand their children and can adapt our teaching approaches based on the needs of each individual child.

By fostering open communication and supporting an open-door policy, we gain profound insights into children’s behaviour and the ‘why’ behind their play. It is through this synergy that we can craft experiences that resonate with children’s curiosity, capturing their attention, and facilitating holistic learning and development.

Learning environments should be created to support schematic learning styles and cognitive structures. Through the use of open-ended resources, loose parts, and a mindful approach, we can empower children to investigate, explore, and be curious at their own pace. The focus is on nurturing confident learners who engage with the world through their heads, hearts, and minds, guided by their unique learning styles.


Types of Schemas

      1. Trajectory: Children captivated by trajectory find joy in the movement—horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. From throwing and dropping objects to observing the path of a rolling ball, their play revolves around the physics of motion. To support this you can provide avenues for throwing, rolling, and catching games, inviting them to explore the thrill of trajectories.
      2. Transporting: The fascination with moving objects from one place to another defines this schema. Children might fill bags, buckets, or boxes, relishing the act of transport. Through empty bags, purses, or wheelbarrows, you can offer platforms for their transporting adventures and support them in their understanding of how things move around them.
      3. Rotation: A love for objects that turn, twist, and spin characterises the rotation schema. Whether it’s spinning in circles or rolling across the floor, these children revel in the dynamics of rotation. To support this, look into providing spinning and rotational resources, and opportunities for safe physical movements. Always be sure to do a risk assessment before introducing new resources into your setting.
      4. Connection: Children with this schema spend time ensuring every piece touches another. This could be loose parts, natural materials, tapes, and strings. Experiment with different natural resources that can be transformed into tools for their exploration into connection.
      5. Enclosure/Containing: Enthralled by the feeling of being surrounded, children embracing this schema fill and empty containers, climb into boxes, and explore enclosed spaces. Large boxes, crates, and baskets can easily become their canvases for imaginative play.
      6. Positioning: Children exhibiting the positioning schema organise and sort items meticulously. Whether it’s arranging resources by size or colour, or balancing objects on furniture, their play is a collection of ordered patterns. This schema can be supported by simply providing children with loose parts and authentic resources to explore.
      7. Enveloping: Wrapped in the joy of enveloping, these children enjoy covering themselves or objects with fabrics, materials, or paper. Floaty scarves, various materials, and ample space for making dens provide avenues for their creativity, try it out!
      8. Orientation: The orientation schema leads children to explore the world from different perspectives—hanging upside down, lying off couches, or viewing things differently. Mirrors, magnifying glasses, and unique viewing tools offer platforms for their explorations. In the nursery, we use mirrors and light to catch the children’s interest and inspire them to explore different perspectives.
      9. Transforming: Children embracing the transforming schema delve into changes, experimenting with alterations in resources. From mixing paint colours to adding ingredients, their play is a canvas of experimentation. Potion stations, mixing stations, and diverse ingredients become their playground. Our personal favourite way to support this schema would be making mud pies! We have a beautiful Forest School with lots of sand and plants that can be used during muddy play.


    Understanding and Celebrating Schematic Learning

    As practitioners, we recognise the significance of schematic learning styles in each child’s unique journey. We should always aim to take a mindful approach and celebrate their patterns of behaviour, as well as provide provocations that fuel their curiosity and pique their interests. By allowing children to take charge of their learning style, we witness high levels of engagement, well-being, and the blossoming of effective learning characteristics.

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