Schemas are, most often, those annoying habits you can’t get your children to stop doing. Moving objects around the house, constantly pouring water out of containers, drawing circles all over your walls – these are all schemas. Intrinsic, naturally repetitive modes of play that children use to understand and engage with their environment. Within schemas, children develop critical thinking skills that will lay the foundation for their learning. At Young Friends, staff are routinely trained on the importance of and recognizing these in play as they will inform how children’s environments will be set up to encourage schema play. If a child enjoys hiding, we source cardboard boxes and build dens, if a child enjoys pouring water into their food, the team will create activities that involve pouring and mixing things together. As children develop with this attentive support, their creative and critical abilities increase and what was once just pouring water into food may very well turn into an interest in chemistry or cooking. Such is the power of supporting children with schema play.
As a nursery, we prioritize process over results, and open-ended resources allow children to focus less on finishing something and more on inquiry and investigation. Indoors and out, our nursery is moving toward a more natural environment with open-ended resources. These resources allow children to project their own ideas of how to play and interact because there is no finite way to use them– which is why a cardboard box has always resulted in longer sessions of play than doing puzzles. Open-ended resources include construction materials like blocks to miscellaneous items in treasure baskets like metal things, wooden things, etc. Providing our children with loose parts such as baskets of stones, piles of wood, etc. opens up a world of exploration and children gain strong abilities in both creative and critical thinking.