Frisbees, Burt’s Bees, and Schemata

Caroline encountered a new object this week: a frisbee. She heard it called a frisbee and then asked me to throw the Burt’s Bees with her. Her little brain was trying to fit this new object, a frisbee, as she has heard us call it, into an existing schema. She didn’t have a reference point for it, though, so she mistakenly fit it in with a term she knows — Burt’s Bees.

This brought home to me the importance of reading broadly with and talking normally to a child. According to Maria Montessori, age 1 to 3 is the sensitive period for language acquisition — Caroline is absorbing terms she is exposed to. The more she is read to, the more words and ideas she is exposed to, the greater her language skills will become. This will not only help her verbally, it will help her reading comprehension (and general life skills comprehension, as well, I venture). The Schema Theory of Learning explains that our brains work to make sense of new things we encounter by fitting them into our existing schemata. Misunderstanding happen, like with the frisbee, when we misapply or can’t find the correct schema.

We have our favorite books at home in our regular reading rotation, but to expose Caroline to other ideas, I try to get a couple of books at the library every other week to add in some new material and expand her schemata.

3 thoughts on “Frisbees, Burt’s Bees, and Schemata

  1. Yes! Piaget had a wonderful theory about that too, with assimilation and accomodation.

    It is so important though, to KEEP reading to kids after they are able to read chapter books to themselves (I know this is a ways down the road for these tiny ones), but keep that in mind. A lot of parents pass that task off to their kids, but there are so many books that are of age-appropriate content, but written deliberately above the reading level of a certain age so that they should be read aloud. It keeps expanding that vocabulary and comprehension.

    Reading is just so crucial at every age of development. I am just thrilled that my two older kids read for pleasure, and that I still get to read to them (The Prince and The Pauper is waiting for us to pick up at the library).

  2. Great reminder. I struggle sometimes since Abby only has a few words and I feel insane explaining everything I am doing throughout the day –but she is still learning those words. Just hard to feel like the crazy talking to yourself lady sometimes 🙂

  3. I’m really seeing this now that I am doing narration with the older children. My 3 yo memorized their poem along with them – I didn’t even realize it until I heard her singing it.
    I used to feel weird ‘talking to myself’ with the littles around – now I’m the weird lady who narrates everything she does, I forget sometimes that I don’t need to do that if the older kids are the only ones around!

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