Educators and researchers who study play consider the phenomenon of schematic play very important and often misunderstood. The concept of schema - a pattern of repeated actions that help us understand how things work - is more simply explained as how humans organize knowledge. And it is very helpful for parents to understand more about how children learn so that they can support these stages.
The use of schemas as a basic concept of learning theory was first explored by Frederic Bartlett, a British psychologist. Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, who believed that children think fundamentally different than adults think, introduced the term schema in his theory related to cognitive development. He believed that people are constantly adapting to their environment by taking in new information and new things and considered these repetitive patterns as both a category of and a process related to intellectual growth.
Types of Schematic Play
There are eight common schemas or types of schematic play. Since these are critical to healthy brain development, it is important to recognize them and to also support the learning that takes from them.
Evidence of this pattern is found in children joining things together or tying things up. Anything that involves binding things together or pulling them apart fits here. This would include playing with a train track or a puzzle or building blocks.
How to support this schema: Offer your children various construction toys and activities that can be glued or taped together such as string, ribbon, and strips of paper or fabric.
You may have noticed your child creating enclosed spaces for themselves.
How to support this schema: Provide large cardboard boxes they can climb into or blankets for tents and also interesting objects to put inside.
Have you ever observed a child wrapping themselves up in blankets or curtains? That is part of an enveloping learning experience. It may also include making parcels and putting everyday objects inside.
How to support this schema: Provide blankets and fabrics to wrap themselves and their toys (for example, swaddling a favorite stuffed animal). Empty boxes of various sizes are useful here, too.
This schema is related to children who like to see the world from different angles, right-side up and upside-down, through their legs, etc.
How to support this schema: Exploring the world in this manner is accomplished through the use of mirrors, magnifying glasses, and binoculars. Hanging from the monkey bars works, too.
This area is all about putting objects in lines, sequences, and patterns and is best accomplished with small objects.
How to support this schema: Offer your child multiples of the same types of objects, for example colored blocks or cars. You may also reinforce these skills with simple household items such as dried beans or buttons that can be organized by size and color.
Children exploring this area will be interested in things that rotate or are circular, like cars with wheels or spinning tops.
How to support this schema: Objects that involve mixing and stirring fit here, too. Consider a water wheel in the bathtub or allowing them to help in the kitchen.
Children are extremely interested in how things move (and this includes themselves!). One of the most common repeated activities for a young toddler may be dropping things from the highchair and throwing things. This area can also be misunderstood when the behavior is repeated in defiance of a parent’s instructions to “stop throwing that ball in the house.”
How to support this shema: It is easiest to support this type of play outdoors, activities like throwing balls, playing on swings, and at the sliding board. Playing with water would also fit nicely here.
Children can be seen repeatedly moving things from one place to another, either with their hands or with the help of a container, like a bag or cart.
How to support this schema: Provide your child with a wide variety of transport vessels, such as a selection of bags, a purse, or boxes of different sizes, and also objects that can be transported such as dolls or small toy animals, coins or buttons, or collections of natural objects such as pine cones or shells.
A child’s persistence and determination through the concept of play can be explained and understood as a natural part of the development of learning about themselves and the world they live in. With sound information and a better understanding of these processes connected to learning, parents can avoid frustration and instead celebrate the wonderful tools that Allah has given us intuitively. So the next time a toy flies across the room, take a deep breath, and be grateful. Allah alum, that Allah is the best of planners.