Deciphering Schemas in Early Childhood: Building Blocks of Learning

Education and Self-Improvement

Deciphering Schemas in Early Childhood: Building Blocks of Learning

In the intricate journey of early childhood development, understanding how children perceive, interact with, and make sense of the world around them is crucial. Schemas in early childhood play a pivotal role in this process, acting as repetitive patterns of behavior that facilitate cognitive development and learning. This article explores the concept of schemas, their significance in early childhood, and practical ways to support children through these developmental milestones.

What Are Schemas?

Schemas are patterns of repeated behavior that allow children to explore and express developing ideas and thoughts through their play and exploration. These patterns emerge naturally as children grow, serving as a fundamental part of their learning process. Schemas can manifest in various ways, including transporting objects from one place to another, enveloping, rotating, and connecting, among others.

The Importance of Schemas in Early Learning

Schemas are critical for early learning because they provide insight into how children understand the world. Recognizing and supporting these patterns can significantly enhance early childhood education, offering a tailored approach that respects each child’s individual way of learning. Schemas help children to:

  • Develop problem-solving skills
  • Enhance their fine and gross motor skills
  • Foster creativity and innovation
  • Build an understanding of the world around them

Recognizing Different Types of Schemas

There are several types of schemas, each with its characteristics and ways it can be supported in a learning environment:

  1. Trajectory – Children are interested in how objects and their bodies move.
  2. Positioning – Involves placing objects in particular positions or sequences.
  3. Enveloping – Children cover objects or themselves, exploring inside and outside concepts.
  4. Rotating – Focuses on turning and spinning objects, noticing circular movement.
  5. Transporting – Involves moving objects from one place to another, often in containers.

Supporting Children’s Schemas

Supporting schemas in early childhood involves observing children’s play, identifying the patterns, and providing appropriate resources and opportunities to explore these interests further. Here are some practical ways to support schemas:

  • Create a rich environment with a variety of objects and materials that cater to different schemas.
  • Allow children the time and space to explore their interests deeply.
  • Engage with children, offering them words and concepts to describe their actions and thoughts.

Learn More About Schemas in Early Childhood

For those interested in a deeper dive into the world of schemas in early childhood development, consider watching this informative video. Presented by Heather White, an expert in early childhood education, the video offers valuable insights into identifying and supporting schemas, enhancing the learning experience for young children.


Understanding and supporting schemas in early childhood is essential for educators, parents, and caregivers. By recognizing these patterns of behavior, adults can provide children with the opportunities they need to explore their ideas and thoughts fully, laying a strong foundation for lifelong learning. Schemas are not just repetitive actions; they are the building blocks of cognitive development, creativity, and understanding of the physical world.