Last Updated: Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Schematic play - Taking a closer look

What is this?

​This PowerPoint presentation explains what schemas are and their important role in children’s learning. It can be used for professional development either individually or as part of a group.

Who is this for?

​Early learning and childcare practitioners, and staff involved in providing professional development.

Explore this resource

How to use this learning and assessment resource to improve practice

Schemas are behaviours that children go through when they are exploring the world and trying to find out how things work. Children have a very strong drive to repeat actions, move things from one place to another, cover things up, put things into containers, move in circles and throw things. Understanding schemas can help us to provide what children need for their learning.

This PowerPoint presentation explains what schemas are and their important role in children’s learning. It outlines the role of practitioners in the observation of children’s play and the importance of understanding the schemas children are displaying so that they can support the learning. It highlights the importance of the quality of the learning environment in providing the potential for children’s creativity skills and allowing them to follow their own particular interests confidently.

Further slides introduce the levels of engagement within schematic play, how to engage families in children’s learning, and a description and photographs of the different schemas. Relevant points and questions for discussion are also present in the slides. Wider discussion and sharing of ideas and practice with other ELC practitioners is encouraged. Relevant links are provided at the end of the PowerPoint.


Powerpoint presentation: Schematic Play (10.5 MB)

Improvement questions

  • What is your current knowledge of schemas?
  • How can the knowledge of schemas improve children’s learning? Read Realising the ambition: Being Me to answer this question more fully.
  • How can you use your knowledge of schemas to improve children’s learning environment?
  • In what ways do you engage parents in dialogue about children’s play and learning?