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The Action and the Theory.

Focus Points
Introduction to Upsy Daisy The theory of schema What are Upsy Daisys prevailing schemas What is being observed at home Next Steps planning through schema Conclusion.

The Context Meet Upsy Daisy!

The theory of schema.

Piaget (1896-1980) was interested in cognitive development. He believed children go through 4 developmental stages - stage level theory. Piaget defined schemas as cognitive structures or mental maps He believed these function at the four levels of the stage level theory. Stage 1. The sensori-motor stage. Level 2. Symbolic development and Language development. Level 3. Function dependency. Level 4. The development of thought.

(Featherstone 2008:16)

The theory of schema

Athey carried out research in 1972 about schema based on Piagets stage level theory.

A schema, therefore, is a pattern of repeatable behaviour

which experiences are assimilated and that are gradually co-coordinated. Co-ordinations lead to higher-level and more powerful schemas (Athey 2008:50)

Bruce who also carried out research on schemas in the 1970s says schemas are biological and socio-cultural. They are always adjusting and changing in the light of experience. (Bruce 2005:73) Bruce also based her work on Piagets stage level theory.

Name that schema?

How do we know its containing and enveloping?

Athey (2008: 139-148) refers to, Putting objects inside and outside, wrapping up, covering up/over, containers/enclosures. Nutbrown (2006:44-50) refers to covering up, climbing inside, objects inside containers, filling containers. Bruce (2005:87 & 49) refers to inside/outside, under, enclosing, wrapping up.

Are the Schemas observed in other contexts.

Schema Clusters.

The observations have shown a cluster of containing and enveloping. The containing was the dominant schema, the more this was repeated in different contexts, so the enveloping evolved. Davies and Howe (2007:245) state schemas are often in clusters part of whole networks of senses, actions and thinking. Bruce (2002) supports Davies and Howe statement and says that the networking develops the childs learning into more complex forms. This links to Atheys ideas of more powerful schemas. Schema clusters follow Piagets concepts of Assimilation Accommodation Equilibration (Anning & Edwards 2004:11-12).

Are the schemas evident at home?

Time set aside to discuss the concepts of schema with photographs. The parent is the childs first educator the expert. The parents were genuinely respected and recognised as experts on their own children
(Athey 2008:202)

Observations from home.

Next Steps Planning through Schema.

Planning Considerations

Assessment for learning. Nutbrown (2006:127)

says the process of assessment illuminates childrens thinking and their capabilities.

Developing language through schema.

Linking language to the schema. Nutbrown (2006:72 & 73) says action, thinking and language are all linked together and support schematic play patterns.

The Dressing up activity.

Evaluation and reflections of the activity.

Upsy Daisy came back to the activity on 2 more occasions that day. Dressing up items now permanently available in a basket, she frequently visits the basket. Next steps develop the dressing up to dressing dolls.

Evaluation and reflections of the activity The theory

involvement scale (Bertram & Pascal 1997). Dressing up Level 5 (Sustained intense activity). Engaged for approximately 25 minutes. Used in conjunction with trying to identify schemas it allows adults to observe when a child may be most deeply involved in their play (Whittaker 2007) What level is Upsy Daisy functioning at in her schematic play patterns? Piaget and Bruces stage level theory.


To Conclude..
Schema theory can be identified as the journey from
perception to integrating experience and thinking.
(Martin 2008).

Schemas provide insight to childrens learning, for the schematic interests to develop there needs to be a rich learning environment, experiential play and learning, responsive, observant adults to support, guide and gently challenge the schematic interests. Can we conclude Upsy Daisys journey? Bruce and Athey would argue no, the observations reflect this.


Anning,A & Edwards, A. (2004) Young Children as Learners.In Miller, L & Devereux, J. Eds. Supporting Childrens Learning in the Early Years.London: David Fulton Athey, C (2008) Extending Thought in Young Children: A Parent Teacher Partnership. 2nd Edition. London: PCP Publishing. Bertram,T. & Pascal, C. (1997) Effective Early Learning Project: Child Involvement Scale [online] Available from: 84.pdf [accessed 23.12.2009] Bruce, T (2002). Brain Power. Nursery World Magazine. 6 June. *online+ Available from: [accessed 23.12.2009] Bruce, T (2005) Early Childhood Education. 3rd Edition. London: Hodder Education.

References continued.

Davies, D & Howe, A ( 2007) What does it mean to be creative. In: Moyles, J. Eds. Early Years Foundations:Meeting the Challenge. Maidenhead: Open University. pp 239-252. Featherstone, S. ed. (2008) Again Again!: Understanding schemas in young children. London: A&C Black. Martin, M. (2008) Chris Athey; John Dewey. Early Years Educator. Volume 10 No 3 July 2008.pp24-26. Nutbrown, C (2006) Threads of Thinking: Young Children Learning and the Role of Early Education. 3rd Edition.London: SAGE. Whittaker,W.(2007) Schemas are a tool through which practitioners and parents can interact more effectively with children and enhance their learning by using a childs natural motivation to learn. Early Years Educator. Volume 9 No 4 August 2007.pp39-44.