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Schemas for Parents

I’m delighted to write about the Schema Guru, Stella Louis MA. As her profile on Early Education states, Stella is a freelance Early Years consultant who has worked as a nursery nurse, nursery manager, diploma in childcare and education course coordinator, Early Years training coordinator and local authority Early Years consultant.  She wrote her first book in 2008 on understanding children’s schemas and has had articles published in Nursery World and Early Education.  Stella has developed a sustained interest in working with parents and is involved in research on sharing knowledge and understanding young children’s schemas with parents.

Children have a natural urge to do the same thing again and again, whether it is throwing things, hiding things all over the house in bags, or emptying all the toys out of the toy box.” Stella Louis

In September 2016, Stella launched Schemas for parents, published by Suffolk County Council. This 29-page full colour booklet is designed to help parents understand schemas; a repeated action, often seen in the behaviours of babies and young children. For example, grasping, lifting, sucking, mouthing, waving and banging are all early schemas.


Stella has continued to build on the research of Chris Athey (1924-2011), author of the ground-breaking book Schemas in young children published in the early 1990s. Through decades of direct work with families, Stella recognised that parents become empowered when they understand how to respond to their child’s schemas.

Stella said, “The importance of schemas and how they relate to how a young brain develops cannot be understated. Through repeated actions children experiment, recognise cause and effect, and eventually apply the principles of their cumulative learning to a new situation.

 My vision is that this booklet will help parents observe, recognise, and respond to patterns in child behaviour so they can provide appropriate opportunities for their young children to learn and develop through play.”

The simple, yet powerful, ideas contained in Schemas for parents will help both parents and practitioners support children to learn in a way that builds on their schematic interests.

Community Play Things donated suitable photographs for the publication. Its marketing manager, Fred Mow, said “Schemas for parents is really beautiful!  As a parent of young children myself, I found it very informative and clearly presented.”

Schemas for parents is one in a range of measures Suffolk County Council uses to support quality experiences for the youngest children as part of its Twos Count Here programme. Run by the council’s Early Years and Childcare Service, the programme provides bespoke support for early learning providers with high numbers of funded two-year-olds.


Alison Manning, head of the Early Years and Childcare Service said, “It has been a pleasure to collaborate with Stella Louis to publish Schemas for parents. With more two-year-olds accessing a funded early learning place I felt it was important to make a concerted effort to improve the quality of provision for this age group.

 “As part of this strategy, Schemas for parents is being given to parents by Early Years practitioners and childminders. These professionals will identify and have meaningful conversations with the families they think will benefit most from an understanding of schemas.”

In Suffolk, Schemas for parents will be distributed by the council free of charge via Early Years providers, childminders and children’s centres to the parents who will most benefit.

If you would like a copy of Schemas for parents the investment is only £3.50 per copy, plus postage and package. It’s available from Stella by emailing sramlouis@aol.com

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