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What are schemas?
When young children are allowed to play freely, they often repeat actions over and over again through sensory-motor behaviour, roleplay and representation (drawings, paintings etc). The patterns of play that are revealed through these repeated actions and behaviour can be interpreted as ‘schemas’ as they allow a child to explore and learn about their world in a way that reflects their own learning preferences and intrinsic brain patterns. Schemas can be identified through regular observation, and can be categorised under a number of headings.
This booklet reports the actions and findings of a small-scale action research project into children’s schemas undertaken over a nine-month period (November 2005 - July 2006) in Crewe, Cheshire. This was not a definitive study but more a prelude to a potentially much larger piece of work to be carried out over the next few years. Helping children to realise their potential through play
Understanding schemas can be useful as a framework for helping practitioners interact more closely and effectively with young children. It enables them to encourage development and enhance learning through the child’s innate motivation to learn. Understanding schemas may also help to develop closer relationships with parents through shared observations, which lead to mutual understanding of the individual child, enabling both to learn more deeply about the child from the child’s intrinsic learning patterns. The researchers Val Melnyczuk and Wendy Whittaker, hope to encourage an interest in schemas by reporting on the project outlined here. “Understanding schemas…helps adults to relate to children more easily and to enjoy their company more, as well as helping children to learn in deep and thorough ways.” Research undertaken by Val Melnyczuk (Below) and Wendy Whittaker (Bottom)
These include: • Rotation • Enveloping • Encircling • Connection • Trajectory a boundary • Going through • Grids • Transportation
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Involvement & well-being
When observing children playing, it is important to remember that they vary in how engrossed they become in what they are doing, and, just like adults, have times when they are more involved in their activities than others. In order to accurately identify a child’s schema or schemas (as they often reveal more than one), it is important to observe a child when they are deeply involved in what they are doing.
Using these signals as key indicators it is possible to grade a child’s involvement on a scale of one to five, with one being no active involvement to five being total involvement, expressed by concentration and intense activity.
A second area that the Leuven Involvement Scale focuses on is well-being, with indicators in this area being: • • • • • • • • openness and receptivity flexibility self-confidence and self-esteem assertiveness vitality relaxation and inner peace enjoyment without restraints being in touch with oneself.
Leuven Involvement Scale
It is much easier to recognise the level of a child’s involvement if there are specific indicators in the child’s behaviour which can be assessed. Therefore, we chose to employ the Leuven Involvement Scale (1996) developed by Prof F. Laevers at the University of Leuven, a framework that makes it possible to grade levels of involvement through observing signals in the child’s behaviour which are: • • • • • • • • • concentration energy complexity and creativity facial expression and...
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