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Understanding Schemas and Young Children


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements About the Author Foreword PART ONE: KNOWING ABOUT SCHEMAS Introduction Schemas and the Youngest Children Observing Children: Spotting Schemas PART TWO: HOW DO CHILDREN UNDER THREE PURSUE THEIR SCHEMAS? 'ALL ABOUT HENRY' Henry's Containing and Enveloping Schema Henry's Back and Forth Schema Henry's Dynamic Vertical Schema Henry's Mark Making and Figurative Representations PART THREE: DEVELOPMENTAL JOURNEYS: TRACING DEVELOPMENTS IN CHILDREN'S THINKING FROM MOTOR TO SYMBOLIC BEHAVIOURS Containing and Enveloping Schema Going through a Boundary Schema Dynamic Vertical Schema Stories from Home Epilogue Bibliography Name Index Subject Index

About the Author

Professor Cathy Nutbrown is Head of the School of Education at the University of Sheffield, where she teaches and researches in the field of early childhood education. Cathy began her career as a teacher of young children and has since worked in a range of settings and roles with children, parents, teachers, and other early childhood educators. Cathy is committed to finding ways of working 'with respect' with young children, and sees the concept of quality in the context of what it means to develop curriculum and pedagogy in the early years with the ambition of working in a climate of 'respectful education'. She established the University of Sheffield MA in Early Childhood Education in 1998 and a Doctoral Programme in Early Childhood Education in 2008. In 2010 she contributed to the Tickell Review of the Early Years Foundation In June 2012 she reported on her year-long independent review for government on early years and childcare qualifications (The Nutbrown Review). She is Editor-in-Chief of the SAGE Journal of Early Childhood Research and author of over fifty publications on aspects of early childhood education. ?Cathy Nutbrown will be discussing ideas from Early Childhood Educational Research in Doing Your Early Years Research Project, a SAGE Masterclass for early years students and practitioners in collaboration with Kathy Brodie. Find out more here.


'I am very excited about this book. It fills many gaps: the age group focused on, the integration of theory with observations of schema learning, effective learning and teaching in play settings.

Atherton and Nutbrown have followed in the footsteps of other important researcher-theorists in studying young children in depth over a long period of time (18 months). They listened intently to what seven children were 'telling' them about their patterns of thought whilst attending a day care setting - including without spoken language to begin with. The authors demonstrate that babies and toddlers are "astonishing thinking things" when adults get to know them differently through observing their play from a schematic perspective.

Dozens of detailed observations of schematic development are provided that enrich practitioner and academic understanding of how very young children learn. The authors integrate

theoretical and research knowledge following each observation by precisely matching quotations from Athey, Piaget, Rogoff, Gardner or other learning theorists with the point the child has demonstrated about learning. Atherton and Nutbrown "walk their talk" albeit at an academic level. In discussing the role of practitioners in early years settings, they assert the need for precise matching of adult talk to the children's thinking concerns and challenge practitioners to provide a conceptual response to children's thinking - and they mean concepts that many would expect from school learning. They provide practical and specific illustrations of how this can be done in connection with the main forms of thought that babies and toddlers demonstrate as they explore the material world.

With socio-cultural learning theory gaining prominence in the field of early education, attention to children learning about schema and mathematic and scientific concepts declined for a time. I am confident that this book will reverse that. Atherton and Nutbrown have brought together socio-cultural and cognitive learning theories with ease in their synthesis of the literature, in theorising the schema stories about the children, in providing "stories of the characteristics of effective learning", and in stories about strengthening children's dispositions and understanding of the world. Their metaphors are brilliantly evocative; for example, adults should be "learning accomplices" of children showing "compatible like-mindedness".

This book will greatly enhance understanding of learning throughout the early years, not just of babies and toddlers, and reinforces the importance of responsive professionals who understand children's schemas. It details how communication with family members at home enhances the opportunities for matched learning encounters between adults and children'
-Dr Anne Meade, Consultant
'This book makes a welcome and valuable contribution to the recent literature on young children and schemas. It strengthens and supports findings of earlier studies and focuses on a younger age group. It is drawn from a study carried out with rigour and contains several 'gems', such as 'the bike and slide exploration'; the idea of adults engaging in 'a dialogue of conceptual correspondence' with children; 'attuned accompaniment' and tables outlining 'what the children might have been thinking'. A great read!'
-Dr Cath Arnold, Pen Green Early Years Centre
'This is an exciting and illuminating account of babies and toddlers, following their schema fascinations with determination and competence, as they continually explore and experiment and come to know their world. A most valuable resource not only for early years practitioners working with the youngest children, but also for those responsible for the over threes, indeed, for anyone desiring to learn more about using the schematic approach. The complex skills of the "attuned matched learning encounters" between adults and children and the vital partnership between practitioners and parents are woven throughout the report. This book captivated me. It should be in every early childhood education setting'
- Pam Cubey

[This book] is original in the way that it situates schema theory in the context of other contemporary theories about care, learning and development, and also original in its specific focus on babies and toddlers. The observations of these very young children's activities and their play are strikingly written; the book is exceptional for the quality of its material and the skilful ways in which narratives from children's lives are presented. -- Julian Grenier, Sheringham Nursery School and Children's Centre, London

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