Sunday, 20 February 2011

Okay, so what is a schema?

A schema is simply a pattern of behaviour. When you watch children's natural actions and investigations you notice that their behaviour is not random. There is a pattern to each indivdual child's behaviour. This pattern is called a 'schema'.

'Schemas are repeated behaviours that babies and young children use to explore and understand the world.' (Nutbrown 1994).

Some children have one very clear schema; others have a number of schemas called a cluster. In knowing which schema a child is following we can begin to make sense of what children are doing?

10 Common Schemas

  • Trajectory
  • Rotation
  • Connection
  • Transporting
  • Heaping and Scattering
  • On Top
  • Containment
  • Envelopment
  • Enclosure
  • Going Through A Boundary

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Like most people when first introduced to the concept of children following schemas; I was sceptic. My first thoughts being...'Really! Do children really do this stuff? I've never noticed those kinds of behaviours in any of the children attending our nurseries! Surely, it's just a coincidence. After all, these patterns of behaviour from our children are random? Right?!


Schemas are now recognised as an important part of children's growth and learning and there is even a place for it in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). However, it was the schema training that I attended recently that really inspired me and made me look at how we approached children's learning and development in our settings; It made me question:
  • What are we doing in terms of following children's real interests?
  • Why do we plan activities and new experiences the way we do?
  • Is our planning and assessment effective and personal to all our children?
  • How could we use the schema approach to improve upon what we do?
  • How could we make it work for us?
 My main intention is to enable practitioners to identify and understand what schemas are and how they can plan for and support children's learning and development through using this new knowledge of children's current schemas (interests). But before I can do that I have to infect my colleagues, as I was infected; hope that 70 plus staff  feel my own excitement about such a major change to TEYP and convince them to give me a chance to show that using schemas as an approach to understanding and planning for children's learning is the way for us to go.

The road is long!