We know that young children learn by their actions upon the world. As children pursue particular patterns of behaviour (particular operational schemes) in their self-chosen free play, such as transporting, containing, rotating, etc., they are developing operations that are the foundations of knowledge and of more complex operations, such as reading, writing, measuring, adding and subtracting, for example.
Young children are exploring rich and complex ideas whilst pursuing particular schemes. For example, Eliza (2:6 years of age) enjoys applying a trajectory scheme and containing scheme in her play. Her educator has been ‘seeding’ a range of resources to support Eliza’s interest in applying these schemes. One of those resources was a watering can stored next to a water butt. Eliza noticed the watering can in the garden and filled it with water. As she did so, she said aloud, “It’s nearly full”. She then walked over to a paved area and poured the water from the watering can onto the paving slabs. She was smiling. Eliza then refilled the watering can, again to the top, but this time she poured the water over some sand. What could Eliza be investigating in this play? Perhaps capacity, gravity, how things become wet, surface area, the material characteristics of water and sand? How would you affirm and respond to this play?
“At the heart of the educational process lies the child. No advances in policy, no acquisition of new equipment have their desired effect unless they are in harmony with the nature of the child, unless they are fundamentally acceptable to him [her]” (DES, 1967, paragraph 9).
Another child, Aden (3:2 years of age), regularly painted anywhere between 6 and 8 pictures a day. He was regularly observed selecting a piece of paper and a pot of blue paint. His paintings were always the same, he covered the entire sheet with paint (enclosing scheme) using up and down movements (trajectory scheme) with his paintbrush. He appeared to be exploring surface area, because his educator had noticed that if there was any glimpse of white paper showing through he would quickly cover it over! She offered Aden different shaped sheets of paper to support his explorations of surface area further, with the consideration that this could also support his perception of different shapes. She read stories about shapes to support his vocabulary of ‘circle’, ‘square’, etc. Paint rollers and large sheets of paper along with wrapping paper and boxes, bubble wrap and different lengths of fabric with crates and building blocks were seeded outside. Whilst in the garden the following week, Aden was watching a friend making a “fence” using crates. After a while Aden went to collect some crates for his own play and he started to place them in a line. The line then became another line and another (trajectory scheme application), until the lines of crates all connected and a square shape was formed. Aden looked over at a friend and announced, “Hey, I made a square.” Aden then left the construction and came back a minute later with a cardboard box, which he put inside the square (enclosing/containing). He then left his construction again and was seen selecting a length of fabric which he stretched over his construction (enclosing) but clearly he was not satisfied with the fit as he said, “This one is too big!” When Aden finally found a sheet that was “just right” he appeared to be delighted with the outcome, announcing “Look, it fits. You can’t blow my house down!”
What are the investigations/explorations that Aden has been engaging in? His educator noticed that perhaps he was investigating surface area, which was supported with different shaped paper and other resources, and it is possible now, a week on, that he is interested to recreate these shapes and explore shape, space, size and measure in his constructions. He also appears to be linking his actions to previous experiences such as a story that he regularly asked to be read to him at home, “The Three Little Pigs”, which links to the containing/enclosing and trajectory schemes, as well as to the construction of houses using different materials. His educator was excited by the learning opportunities that Aden could be exploring, which she shared with his parents. Together they supported and shared his ongoing investigations. How would you respond?
When children are exploring schemes, they appear to be particularly motivated towards certain explorations, fostering deep investigations. For example, children exploring a containing scheme are often observed exploring capacity/volume and size. Whilst children exploring a dynamic trajectory scheme often become fascinated by height and/or distance. Children transporting objects may explore capacity, and some focus on the weight of objects being moved and/or on their journey. One child, recently observed in a setting engaging in SchemaPlay, moved groups of objects from inside the classroom to an area outside. Later that day he recreated the route graphically (applying the trajectory scheme on paper – drawing a line from one point to another) stating, “This is the way to the outside with them.”
Our SchemaPlay Accreditation Training and the SchemaPlay Setting Accreditation has been developed to support anyone working in early years who is interested in developing a deeper pedagogical knowledge. For learning to be meaningful and for a curriculum to be effective, children’s schemes must be affirmed and appreciated as their anchors to learning. Children’s scheme explorations should be responded to effectively, promoting investigations, self-esteem, self-belief and a joy of learning through free-flow play. SchemaPlay pedagogy involves ‘seeding’ resources to support independent investigations from children’s anchor schemes, enabling their ownership of their play and timely guided activities – to extend and build upon children’s schematic investigations, fostering new learning opportunities.
If you would be interested in engaging in the SchemaPlay Educator and Setting Accreditation Program, the cost of the accreditation is £50.00 per setting (this excludes your local trainers’ fee). However, included in the accreditation fee is a SchemaPlay Setting Audit and, with the support of your local trainer, the baseline audit supports a development plan to foster a culture and environment that trusts in the unique child, a culture of affirming children’s schemes, their investigations and responding appropriately to support their curriculum engagement/their learning enquiries, promoting ‘flow’ in free-flow play. Included in this fee are the SchemaPlay Staffroom Posters, the SchemaPlay Setting Accreditation Plaque/Educator Certificates and a bespoke video by SchemaPlay for your setting which reports on your overall accreditation submission, along with some ideas for future development, if required.
Each early years’ setting submission will include the baseline and final audit, as well as the educator’s learning journeys. Each educator will engage in applying SchemaPlay in their practice (following their training) and will select one child’s learning journey which he or she feels best demonstrates their overall SchemaPlay pedagogical practice. Upon successful submission of a learning journey, which meets the criteria discussed in the training and in the supporting observation video provided, each educator will receive a SchemaPlay Educator Accreditation Certificate. Once 50% of the adults working in the setting have submitted a learning journey (containing approximately six observations) and the setting has submitted their baseline and final audits, the setting will be accredited. The SchemaPlay Accreditation timeline is usually between 3 – 6 months, including training, but settings can take longer.
Directory of Trainers.
SchemaPlay have over 100 licensed trainers currently operating across England and Western Australia. The following SchemaPlay accredited trainers are happy to be contacted directly to support your engagement in the SchemaPlay Accredited Setting Program. If you are based in an area not advertised below, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and they will contact a trainer on your behalf.
East Anglia: Lynnette is delighted to be able to offer face-to-face training, as well as online training to any early years’ settings/reception classes wishing to engage in the The SchemaPlay Setting Accreditation Program across East Anglia. Please contact: email@example.com
The South-East and London: Alison Featherbe, Director of Alison Featherbe Consultancy and Award Winning Nursery World Trainer, is happy to provide face-to-face training and online training to early years’ settings/reception classes across London and the South-East of England. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org