Understanding Schemas and Emotion in Early Childhood makes explicit connections between young childrens spontaneous repeated actions and their representations of their emotional worlds. Drawing on the literature on schemas, attachment theory and family contexts, the author takes schema theory into the territory of the emotions, making it relevant to the social and emotional development strand in early childhood education.

Based on research carried out alongside children, parents, workers and co-researchers at the world-famous Pen Green Nursery, and using case studies of a small number of individual children, the author shows new links between cognition and affect. The book includes a brief summary of a method of Child Study, using video and reflections on video sequences.

This book will be of interest to students and practitioners on Early Childhood undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as those taking modules on schema theory.



A schema is a mode of reactions susceptible of reproducing themselves and susceptible above all of being generalized. (Piaget, 1962, p. 95)

Schemas are patterns of repeatable actions that lead to early categories and then to logical classifications. (Athey, 2007, p. 49)

Recognition of the child's schemas appears to give the parent and teacher access to the child's emotional experience in addition to her intellectual development. (Shaw, 1991, p. 6)

This chapter introduces:

  • The context in which a study of young children's schemas and emotional experiences took place
  • A brief examination of the theory used to illuminate children's actions
  • A critical incident that prompted a closer look at schemas and emotion and resulted in some new learning about how young children use schemas
  • A plan of this book

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