SchemaPlay conference shines spotlight on how practitioners can develop schema to extend children’s learning

Imani Cottrell
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The first national SchemaPlay early childhood conference, held on 1 May in Walsall, launched two new Schemaplay initiatives, including a sustainable development award.

Schemas in action at Kings Hill Primary School in Walsall
Schemas in action at Kings Hill Primary School in Walsall

SchemaPlay is a not-for-profit community interest company set up in 2016, with the aim to improve the learning outcomes of disadvantaged young children, and narrow the educational gap associated with cultural, gender and socio-economic differences.

SchemaPlay is both the name of the organisation, and a model identifying the way in which a child interacts with adults and other children and their learning during free flow play.

Two new SchemaPlay initiatives were launched, a practice accreditation scheme ‘Improving Outcomes in Free-Flow Play’ and the OMEP Early Childhood Education for Sustainable Citizenship Award.

Free flow play is crucial because a child’s learning will remain incomplete if they do not get the opportunity to play with new ideas and recognise the strengths and limitations of the schemes and schemas.

The Sustainable Citizenship Award is designed to encourage children to learn about how they respect and care for the environment and each other. Each child that takes part will receive a sustainable citizenship passport and they can collect award stickers through completing various educational activities.

‘Building on what they know’
The conference was opened with the words of David Ausubel ‘…the most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows’.

Those words support the principle that a child can only be taught something new if they build upon what they already know and can do.

Taking into account when a child is ready to learn something new, is why SchemaPlay puts an emphasis on observing the schemes (operational behaviours) and schemas (figurative knowledge) shown by young children during free-flow play.

The conference included speeches from john Siraj-Blatchford and Lynnette Brock, outlining evidence that observing schemes and schemas during play can improve learning outcomes.

Authors and experts in the field of schema theory and practice were also heard from including Cath Arnold, Julie Brierley, Tasmin Grimmer, Ian Macleod-Brudenell and Fran Paffard.

A new series about schemas written by Professor John Siraj-Blatchford will start in the July issue of EYE. 

Find out more about SchemaPlay here 

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