Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Understanding Child Development: Schemas

The CBeebies website has an explanation of schemas, repeated patterns in a child’s play.

I currently look after a child who displays trajectory schema which is described by the BBC:
‘Trajectory: diagonal/vertical/horizontal: gazing at your face; dropping things from their cot; making arcs in their spilled food with their hand; playing with the running water in the bathroom; climbing up and jumping off furniture; lining up toys or soft animals; bouncing and kicking balls, throwing.’

This particular child used to throw everything.  As he has developed he is now able to roll cars rather than throw them.  He loves to stand at the low sink at the children’s centre and hold his hands under the water.  Interestingly, he is has just discovered the step up to the sink and spent a length of time practising climbing up and down the step.  Balls are often the toy he chooses to play with, he throws them then runs or crawls after them. 

I have recently observed that a child often envelopes things.  In one particular session he was playing with plastic dinosaurs.  He carefully placed pieces of play dough all over his dinosaur.  It was then taken to the sand tray where he covered it in sand.  He then held it under the tap covering it in water. He repeated the process of covering in play dough then sand, then water over and over again.

The BBC describes an enveloping schema:
‘Enveloping: wrapping oneself up in a bath towel or large piece of fabric; enfolding a doll or stuffed toy in a blanket; painting a sheet of paper in entirely one colour.’

Adults often notice they display schemas too.  I line things up.  The shoes by my front door annoy me if they aren’t placed in pairs, side by side. In my food cupboard all the tins are kept in rows of the same tinned food.  I got rid of the rug in my living room as it really annoyed me if it wasn’t straight against the lines of the wooden floor. 

Have you spotted any patterns in your child’s play? Do you have a schema yourself? 

The cBeebies article explains how a child’s schemas are fundamental to them. ‘Knowing about them makes a wonderful basis for you to better understand your child’s development and support them rather than become frustrated with their behaviours. Through understanding the idea of schemas, you may recognise and value your child’s underlying interests and needs.’

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