Your Child’s Schema

Apologies to my blog readers who aren’t Mums – cause this one might be a bit boring.

When I picked up Little legs last week after work, my wonderful child minder informed me that Grace was a “Transporter.”   I was unsure how to process this information. There are many things I  have called my little bundle of joy, but “Transporter” has  never been one of them. Apparently, she also has a bit of “Orientation” thrown in. Upon further questioning, it transpired that said child-minder had been attending a course which involved identifying patterns of behaviour in children and how to accommodate for them through play.  She also gave me a load of bumph on it as I found it all pretty interesting and thought you might too.

Now don’t go giving me all that “children shouldn’t be put in boxes” stuff (metaphorically of course. Literally putting them in boxes it would seem – they tend to quite like) I know every child is different, but my Little G definitely fits the Transporter/Orientation description. So . . . what’s your little one?

Patterns of Behaviour

A schema is a repeated pattern of behaviour which children use to express and explore their developing ideas. There are several types of schema, and a child may fit into more than one.  They include:

Trajectory :

This schema is primarily about movement – vertical, horizontal, or clashing (bringing two objects together). Children with a trajectory schema may like to repeatedly drop things or throw objects. Provide for children with this schema by putting out things like balls and bean bags, building blocks, which children can build up and then knock down, water, which children can pour and observe the movement of, and tweezers and hole punches which enable children to explore a clashing trajectory.



The rotation schema is about turning and rotating. Children exhibiting this schema may like rolling, running, or moving in circles. They will often like to draw circular patterns. In order to encourage the rotation schema put out things such as toys with wheels, scooters and tricycles, or activities with a rotational movement such as cogs and wheels.



The enveloping schema is all about wrapping up and hiding. Children may cover themselves or objects with materials, they may paint over a picture with a single colour, or they might make dens or hide under tables. For the enveloping schema, have lots of fabric and material for the child to access as well as dressing up clothes. Also provide lots of paper and sticky tape so that children can wrap things up and cover objects.



Most children are moved around a lot. Put into cars, pushed to the shops etc, so it seems natural that they would want to explore transporting for themselves. Children with this schema like to move things. They may also push around prams or wheelbarrows, empty or full. They may carry objects from place to place, often squirreling them away in a bag or container before depositing them somewhere else. Try to ensure you have lots of bags and containers available for the child to use and outside toys should include trolleys,  or wheelbarrows, which children with this schema will love to move around the garden.


Other schemas include Positioning (ordering and arranging objects), Connecting, (Putting things together by tying/fastening/ sticking etc) and Orientation (looking at things from a different viewpoint, e.g. upside down.)

Pretty interesting I thought. What d’ya reckon?



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11 responses to “Your Child’s Schema

  1. I can see some traits from each schema in my son and the toys he likes to play with definitely match the descriptions of his moods. Very interesting indeed.

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  3. My middle child is *such* a transporter – we liken her to a glacier as she picks things up, carries them about, then leaves them in odd places 🙂

  4. Jennifer

    Ooo. I think I have an ‘Enveloper’!

    Very interesting.

  5. This is such a fascinating post! I think so far DD is a positioner and into orientation. Is there a specific age that the schemas become apparent do you know?

  6. I think it’s as soon as thay begin to display ant of the behaviour patterns – so depends on the baby/toddler. Thanks for lovely comment! Not had a positioner yet! x

  7. Luka is definitely a transporter, with a little bit of trajectory, especially at meal times. I love this, going to use it in my personal statement! Which i am doing now!

  8. Very interesting!

    I think Freyja may be all of these though… :/ xx

  9. Susie Addison

    Best to write down all the patterns of behaviour (schema) you can observe over a period of time in order to identify the consistent pattern ie. the ones that appear the most, then provide play experiences and resources accordingly. This is a great approach for identifying with your childs’ interests and getting to know their learning and development on a deeper level. I really recommend it, if not just for the interesting patterns you can see..

    ps. I’m studying this at degree level and it really makes sense. Susie x

    • fiona

      i had my son assessed as i was getting concerned in his behavour..he was lining up his toys and getting upset if one is out of line often with throwing them across the room..he would also push his buggy wheels backwards and forwards whilst lying down, he would constantly put things into piles and then start a new pile which became obsessive, he would often cover the dog with pillows and blankets then doing it to himself then his baby sister which often had me worried..he was frightened in crowds and got so upset if you sing or singing on 2 he could count to twenty say all his alphabet and know all his numbers and colours..i eventually rang my health visitor who put me in touch with a child behavorist..she watched him in play and told me straight away he had a cluster of schemas..i now understand and can relate to the different schemas my son has and ive since put him in nursery which has helped him with his anxieties and schemas and he does not become so obsessive with his sorting out and can now sing with out it being upsetting for him…he recently been acessed again and he has a learning of a four year old level…i feel very happy now that i know about schemas but for mothers who dont its completely normal.

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