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Food is an extension of toys (Feed the schema)

Posted by felicity Friday, November 14, 2014

Feeding the Schema

What are Schemas?
Schemas are patterns of repeatable behaviour which can often be noticed in young children's play. By exploring and practising their schemas, children become more knowledgeable about the world around them. Schemas are part of children’s motivation for learning and are a direct reflection of children’s interests and lead to children engaging in and exploring concepts associated with them.

How are schemas useful?
Understanding schemas are useful for helping to understand a child’s motivation for doing something, and that includes eating. Identifying the schema allows you to extend their learning by matching learning opportunities based on their individual interests. For example, if you have a little one who’s interested in transporting things you might say he’s exhibiting the Transporting Schema. If you’re playing in the sand, you’d have greater success at engaging his interest by having him move sand in buckets and trucks rather than digging or burying objects in the sand.

It makes sense therefore to take this schema and apply it to engage their interest in eating. Food merely is an extension of toys in the way a child learns.

 
 
MEME-Schema-Web.jpg
 
 
One of the earliest ways your child will learn about their environment is through their mouth and food and eating is an extension of that
 
The way a child interacts with a toy is to:
 
  1. See a toy that sparks their interest
  2. Reach for the toy
  3. Put the toy in the mouth to explore it
 
So why not take this process and apply it to the process of eating – an activity we do 3 times a day?
 
 
This is the way a child interacts with food:
 
  1. Sees some food that sparks their interest
  2. Reaches for the food
  3. Puts the food in the mouth to explore it
 
It makes sense therefore to start off by offering bright colourful foods which will spark their interest rather than boring old beige baby rice- we don’t see many beige baby toys on the market, and now you can probably see why since it won’t stimulate their interest to interact with it. Serving up bright, colourful foods and giving your child the opportunity to choose them is a extension of learning and will encourage your child to get off to the best start in life developmentally
 
It is easy to see how some children may go through a phase of becoming a fussy eater when they would rather be down from the table playing than sat at the table eating. So why not continue with food being an extension of play and create delicious meals targeting your child’s schema. We don’t mean putting foods in patterns of cars but serving up home-cooked food that compliments your child play.
 

Read more about schemas and recipes and eating / play suggestions to support them in the chapter "Feeding the schema" in our latest book Worry-free Weaning.

Dr Anna Walton is a chartered counselling psychologist and Felicity Bertin is a registered paediatric osteopath. They work together supporting families with children who have fussy eating habits.