“If children find learning difficult it could well be that there is something wrong with the way that we are asking them to learn” (Smith, 1982).

The operational schemes and figurative schemas that young children display in their self-chosen free play (explained and discussed in our early years’ training) are telling us what children ‘can do’, what they ‘know about’, and what they want to explore and take forward.

In order to foster children’s sense of community, their positive perception of self, mastery behaviour, independence and confidence, adults working with young children have a critical role to affirm their play (their schemes and schemas). How adults respond to children’s observed schemes and schemas impacts mastery and learning:

Children’s perception of their own self-worth comes from their understanding of how they feel others perceive them (Dowling, 2010).

“Educators need to watch the children they work with, keeping open minds and responding with sensitivity, and respect to what they see” (Nutbrown, 1996).

Effective affirmation and response, supporting ‘seeding’ of scheme capabilities and progression through meaningful learning activities is covered within our training and resources. We share exemplary case studies to support confidence, ‘flow’ (Bruce, 1991) in free-flow play and meaningful learning experiences. During our hands-on, active and also theoretical training, we explore the following and share self-audit tools and case study videos to support your day to day practice:

A stimulating free-flow play environment.

Scheme spotting and observation – affirming and responding.

The Zone of Proximal Developmental (Vygotsky, 1978).

The Zone of Proximal Developmental Flow Model (Siraj-Blatchford & Brock, 2015).

Realistic, yet aspirational, learning extensions and progression.

Sustained Shared Thinking (Siraj-Blatchford, I. et al, (REPEY/DfE, 2002).

Embodied Language: Operational schemes and language acquisition.

Respectful collaborations with parents/other professionals. We also introduce our SchemaPlay ParentZone resources.

The SchemaPlay Curriculum Wheel to reduce cognitive load.

Celebrations: Children’s capabilities/achievements – no matter how small.

Emergent learning through free-flow play: When we consider the notion of emergence, we appreciate that every child is unique and, in appreciating the unique child, we recognise that every person’s perceptions and actions differ. 

Assimilation and Accommodation (Piaget, 1969): The operational schemes children display in their self-chosen free-play not only show us their current capabilities, we also know that they are pre-requisite skills to engagement in later complex operations. Operations such as reading, writing, adding, subtracting and measuring. SchemaPlay training shows how children assimilate, accommodate, combine and ‘chunk’ schemes – a unique and creative act.

To find out more about SchemaPlay (TM) training and our supporting resources, please contact Lynnette Brock using the email: admin@schemaplay.com

We are able to provide a bespoke training package to meet your needs and time availability.

Or visit our contact page.

After engaging in SchemaPlay (TM) training, early years settings can engage in our SchemaPlay (TM) Educator Accreditation and SchemaPlay (TM) Setting Accreditation. Your very own early years action-research project!

Lynnette Brock , Director of SchemaPlay Community Interest Company

SchemaPlay Community Interest Company provide training for early years’ settings across the UK, Bulgaria, Germany, Poland and Western Australia.  Their SchemaPlay Improving Outcomes in Free-Flow Play training for early years’ settings is very popular, with many educators going on to engage in the SchemaPlay Educator and the SchemaPlay Setting Accreditation.

The articles below introduce the ‘Horizontal and Vertical Trajectory’ scheme, the ‘Containing’ scheme, the ‘Rotating’ scheme, the ‘Connecting’ scheme and more sophisticated schemes, such as the ‘Transporting’ scheme and the ‘Positioning’ scheme. The articles define each scheme and provide activity ideas to support young children to apply their scheme explorations in a range of contexts across the early years’ curriculum. In our SchemaPlay training we support early years practitioners to really see what children are doing, so that progression in their learning is meaningful.

To read one of the articles below, please click the link and select ‘open link in a new window’.

The Trajectory Scheme:


The Containing Scheme:


The Rotating Scheme:


The Connecting Scheme:


The Transporting Scheme:


The Positioning Scheme:


A report from a nursery school in Western Australia at the start of their SchemaPlay (TM) journey.


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