Schemas – How To Understand And Extend Children’s Behaviour

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33 responses to this post.

  1. Err… how young can we start to notice this behaviour?


    • I’m not sure, but I think the lower age limit depends on the child’s own developmental progress. For example, Ben wouldn’t really be showing a preference for carrying things from one place to the other, if he hasn’t developed the motor skills to carry things or even walk.

      You might notice simpler patterns though, like he might show a preference for pushing things off tables or out of his cot, i.e. a Trajectory Schema.


      • Posted by Audrey Lee on 17 December, 2009 at 2:57 pm

        You are right, Mark. If an adult (the mother or caregiver) is observant and sensitive to the child’s needs, she will notice the signs (from the child) when he is in a schema, ie. at abt the age of 7 – 10 months he will be pushing/throwing things out from his cot/playpen or highchair and 1 – 2yr old will be pushing chairs, toys, boxes, etc, i.e. forming trajectory schema. I think it is what Maria Montessori termed as ‘the sensitive periods’ Many adults missed these ‘crucial periods’ of the child’s development. It is during these periods that the child is experimenting and interacting with his environment and if adults are sensitive, they can scaffold (ie. encourage the child’s development).


        • I haven’t worked in childcare in Malaysia as yet. Are childcare practitioners very knowledgeable in theory and practice?


          • Posted by Audrey Lee on 18 December, 2009 at 4:36 am

            EC professionals in Malaysia say that some theory knowledge is needed to raise the professionalism level of this industry – combination of both would be perfect. I think some knowledge of theory could help mothers/caregivers to provide ‘just enough encouragement at the right time’ to enhance their child’s development as oppose to those whose don’t know when or those who tried too hard too soon… 🙂

      • Well, Ben currently likes to hang onto something (sofa, stool, playpen) and bring himself to stand, then he will move onto climbing onto things – sofa, stairs, our bed. But isn’t this one of those things babies do when they reach a particular milestones? (like going to stand for example)

        How to differentiate this milestones from schema? Or its the same thing?


        • Think of it as a milestone being the first time Ben has achieved something significant, whereas schematic behaviour would be repeating something he’s particularly interested in.

          But if he’s going to be doing something he’d be expected to do anyway, it probably wouldn’t be a ‘pattern of repeated behaviour’. I.e. you wouldn’t say he enjoys breathing, or prefers standing on his feet as opposed to his hands. 🙂


    • Posted by Jo on 24 August, 2011 at 7:23 am

      This information is very similar! More information here too.


  2. I think more than raising the overall professionalism level of the industry, it’s important to raise the minimum level of professionalism, at least initially. And a little bit of theoretical knowledge will have great results in that aspect.

    In the UK, they have something called the Early Years Foundation Stage, which breaks down the development stages into different categories, age groups, etc, and simple things like what you can expect, and what action you can take from there. I’ve been meaning to do a post on it, but you know lah, hehe. 🙂

    Whereas in Malaysia, I don’t think there’s anything even close to such a guidance framework.


    • Posted by Audrey Lee on 18 December, 2009 at 6:16 am

      Currently, what theoretical knowledge we obtained are thru courses or reading (if you are a reader). Some countries have early years learning and developmental standards. The EC professionals in Msia shd come together to build the standards or framework which can then be applied to all children in the Msian context.


      • Somehow I have a feeling that once childcare practitioners are done with their courses, their reading will be rather limited, with the exception of those in upper management.

        You have a lot of experience working with the the Malaysian government right? How would it be possible to form decent standards and frameworks? 🙂


        • Posted by Audrey Lee on 21 December, 2009 at 3:55 pm

          It takes years… and lots of NGOs’ voice and sometimes someone up there who has an interest in EC development.


  3. Well, there’s no better time to start than the present. 🙂

    All we need then is some NGOs and someone up there.


  4. (Un)fortunately, I can’t seem to open the link. 🙂

    I don’t even know who the current PM is. =-P


  5. Posted by Audrey Lee on 26 December, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    You must hv been out of the country far too long! Well, if you don’t know who he is, you must know who our first lady is… ie. Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor, the person behind the country’s Anak Permata Project (ie. every child is precious). She has created great ‘public awareness’ on the importance of ECE and ECD in our country through this project. You can get more details from the PM’s speech (try copy and paste the link or type it out).


  6. Doesn’t the first lady change if the PM is changed?

    I’ve heard of the Permata Project before, but only brief mentions. Don’t think I’ve ever found a proper website with full details.


  7. […] Schemas – How To Understand And Extend Children’s Behaviour … – I hope this info will help parents and childcare professionals alike in better understanding children’s behaviour, so that they’ll be able to further extend their learning. I’ve also attached a document which includes categorised tables … […]


  8. well eve likes to imitate what we do…so …i don’t think it’s her schema…to clap hands…she’s just merely imitating what we’re doing.


    • All kids love imitating, absolutely everything.

      I was once doing sand play with some kids, and I accidentally poured some sand on one of the children’s hands, so I went “Sorry James”. The rest of the kids then started to line up and take turns pouring sand on his hands and going “Sorry James!”


  9. Posted by Mindy on 9 February, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Could you further define your meaning of a schema ? I’m not 100% sure it aligns with my definition. And what exactly is the goal with children and this awareness? What is the benefit (aside from being more knowledgeable about your child’s brain mechanisms)?


    • Hi Mindy!

      May I know your definition for schemas? 🙂

      There’s lots of ways schemas can be interpreted, but in this context I’m referring to behavioural patterns in children.

      It can be beneficial for knowing what a child’s interests are, so that you stand a better chance of getting him/her to be fully engaged in an activity. Sort of like how a child who likes planes would be more engaged in an activity involving planes, as opposed to cars or boats.

      For those who have to plan activities for children all the time, schemas can also be a useful tool to ease the planning process, especially in a preschool setting when there’s more kids per adult!


      • Posted by Mindy on 1 March, 2010 at 12:21 am

        I appreciate your response. I better understand it in your context now. Thanks for the enlightenment.

        My definition is more of a mental framework in the unconscious brain that helps our brain be more efficient, and fast at processing information. Your mind creates schemas to operate from. For example, have you ever bought a car, and then suddenly noticed that style car (make, color, etc) is everywhere. It’s because once you become aware of the car, your mind now has a schema for it. It picks up on that in the environment, it’s like a filter for the mind, or your mind casting a light on certain things/ideas, etc in the environment. Our mind wouldn’t be what it is without it, but it certainly also causes negative side effects in or lives, as it can mislead people. It can be a very complex idea, and its effects on human life are far reaching.

        I suspect that our ideas may be intertwined. People have to start somewhere establishing these complex brain mechanisms. And what you are describing sounds like the building blocks of a schema.

        Do I make sense? I have much more information about schemas on my website.

        Did I make sense?


        • Uhm, I couldn’t find the bit on schemas on your site. Interesting bit about sexy male swimwear though. =-P

          I’ve heard about schemas in terms of brain mechanisms. I.e. a child may begin with an early schema that all living things walking on four legs are cats. Upon seeing a dog and being corrected that it’s not a cat but a dog, he may modify his schema into ‘all living things walking on four legs are either cats or dogs’.

          Maybe that context is more along the lines of the one you have in mind.


          • Posted by Mindy on 2 March, 2010 at 4:07 am

            lol, glad you enjoyed our male swimwear bit.

            We actually have a lot about psychology and science on our site. You have to look under the science category on the side panel, or put the word schema in the side panel search. It’s called, What is a schema, and how does it effect gender.

            Also, we now use our actual website, perhaps you went to our word press blog? And that is much more difficult to find anything on, or site is much more organized. I may even have some other articles about human development you may enjoy..things like brain development and epigenetics (which is fascinating, and a must read). The human brain in my favorite subject.

            The cat/dog example is exactly what I speak of. But, if you start digging into schema’s even deeper, it can get really interesting on its effects on humans. I speak about much of that on the article I wrote. To be honest, I’m not used to talking to people that are aware of schema’s, except maybe a past professor.

            You have a great site. Thanks for getting back to me.

  10. I just clicked on the link you provided Mindy. 🙂

    Thanks for your encouragement!

    As my brain is steadily rotting, I like to try and keep what mental capacity I have as well. 🙂 Don’t suppose you have a ‘Top 10 brain tips’ article? 🙂 You could share the link here!


  11. Posted by Mabel Owusu on 29 April, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    i am a teacher trainee in Ghana and am offering diploma in early childhood education in my second year.i was searching for information on children and i came across this and it has been educative to me a lot.keep it up because i will like to read more next time.


  12. Posted by Beautywithin on 8 August, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Hi I ended up here by accident after researching schemas to make sure I am as up to date as possible. I noticed that you mentioned the UK’s EYFS framework and thought you might like the links to access / have a nose through these.


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