An Introduction to Schemas

McDermott, M. (2020). An Introduction to Schemas.
If you have ever wondered why a young child is rolling around on the floor or you have been irritated when a toddler is throwing things about or repeatedly banging or pulling something, you will be interested to learn about schemas. Put simply, schemas appear as ‘patterns of action’ (Pen Green Centre for Children and Families, 2018) or patterns of play that a child engages in as they create a mental framework to help them understand the world. What may appear to be random, comical or even ‘annoying’ behaviour is, in fact, a natural and powerful urge for a young child with a purpose behind it. It is up to you as the adult to observe and identify this purpose so you can understand what the child might be learning through their actions and better support their learning and development. This booklet offers a practical introduction to schemas and is suitable for anyone caring for young children between 18 months and 3 years, whether as a parent or in a professional capacity as a childminder or in an early learning and care setting. We focus on children of this age because of the rapid growth and development that takes place in the first three years of life and the fact that learning from this time is foundational to the rest of a child’s development. Also, as children of this age do not necessarily have the language to tell you about what they are doing when they are engaged in schemas, it is important that you understand what they are doing so you can support their explorations. The booklet outlines what a schema is, what you might observe when a young child is exploring a schema and how you can practically support the child to explore the fascination that they have for how things and they themselves move and are in the world through schemas.