Monday, October 27, 2008

My Introduction to Schemas in Early Childhood Education

Susan Harper's Introduction to Schemas in Early Childhood Education

1. Welcome.

2. Waiata: with schema connection e.g. Enveloping and Trajectory

Jack in the box is a funny wee man,
He sits in his box as long as he can,
He sits in his box as long as he can
And then he jumps out like this: BOING!

3. Ice Breaker: “Is there something your child loves doing over and over again?”

4. Aims and learning outcomes of this introduction: Start participants thinking and talking about the notion of schema. Introduce the use of schema in early childhood education, i.e. noticing repeated behaviour, recognising schemas, responding within the schema recognised.

5. Definition:

A schema is a pattern that a child loves to repeat in their play.

6. Noticeable characteristics of schemas:

  • Schemas repeat.

  • While working on schemas children often seem fascinated; they concentrate and are deeply engaged.

  • But to adults schemas can seem compulsive and perplexing.

7. Noticing, recognising and responding to schemas:

    If a child is working on a schema it will be noticeable as it crops up again and again, all over the place.

    It's worth being able to recognise schemas because they are sources of much learning and development in children as well as confusion and frustration in adults.

    Therefore, understanding schemas makes responding to children's behaviour more effective and fun in many ways and on many levels.

However, not all children have schemas that are easy to recognise and work with. Schemas are just one way of thinking and talking about children, there are lots of others. Use whatever works for you and the child at hand.

9. Do you have a passion?

Do you remember a time when you were so into what you were doing that you didn't notice the irrelevant extras around you, you disappeared and there was just the doing of the activity?

... pause for thought...

That kind of “being in the zone” or “flow state” is what doing their schema seems to feel like to a child.

I think that this sort of flow is something worth paying a bit of respectful interest to, as well as being a great motivation for and indicator of learning, it's certainly my favourite thing about all my favourite things, and there's evidence to suggest that getting into that state on a regular basis is a very good habit for promoting mental wellness.

8. Using the “Schemas in Areas of Play” chart:

  1. Notice repeated behaviour.

  2. Recognise a schema (or two).

  3. Respond to schemas using Te Whaariki:
    If you also recognised a lovely piece of learning going on you might

  • help the child to consolidate or extend their thinking within their schema,

  • use words relevant to their schema,

  • help them make friends with you, or other children who are interested in that schema.

If you also recognised a problematic behaviour (see the last column) redirection within the schema is often taken surprisingly well.

Reference: Harper, Susan "Schemas in Areas of Play" first published as pages 18 and 19 in the Playcentre Journal Issue 121: Spring 2004.
It's under Crown Copyright as Wilton Playcentre was a Centre of Innovation at the time.

Note: Transporting, transforming, trajectory, rotation (and circularity), enclosure (and enveloping), connecting and disconnecting are not the only schemas. They are some common ones which are fairly easy to spot. Other repeating behaviour can be thought about and facilitated in the same way.

Further Reading:

Meade, Anne and Pam Cubey (2008); Thinking Children: Learning about schemas [2nd ed]

van Wijk, Nikolien (forthcoming 2008); Getting Started With Schemas, Playcentre Federation of New Zealand.



Blogger Gypsy said...

I hope we can get you up to Te Akoranga - I credit you and your schema matrix with getting me into PC Susan!!! Looks like a wonderful workshop. When is Nikolien's book coming out - I keep waiting to see a mention of it on the website or at centre? I am sufficiently nerdy that I want it for Christmas, along with Maryann Kohl's First Art. Obsessed ... maybe!

12:50 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

So is this a workshop you are planning or scheduled to do, or just an idea? I'm sure there are lots of people who would be interested in going.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Cherie said...

Hi there

I too am interested in your schema workshop for our playcentre in Hamilton. If you are interested in visiting us - (07) 834 0206.


9:11 PM  

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