Improving Preschool Play: Balancing Screen Time and Schemas of Learning

Improving Preschool Play: Balancing Screen Time and Schemas of Learning

Play schemas are repetitive patterns of behaviour and they play a vital role in how preschoolers understand and interact with their environment.

Among these play schemas, trajectory, transporting, and connecting hold significant importance, shaping a child's cognitive and physical development.

However, the influence of screens in today's digital age has begun to reshape these fundamental play patterns, raising concerns about their potential negative impact on preschool play behaviours.


Understanding Play Schemas:

Play schemas, repetitive patterns of exploration and understanding, are fundamental for children's play, learning and development. The trajectory schema embodies a fascination with movement and direction, while the transporting schema involves moving objects from one place to another. Connecting schema, on the other hand, encompasses the act of linking, joining, or building structures.

The Shift Towards Screen Time:

In recent years, the prevalence of screens—smartphones, tablets, and TVs—has skyrocketed, captivating the attention of young children. The allure of digital content has begun to overshadow traditional play activities, impacting the development of crucial play schemas.

Impact on Trajectory Schema:

The trajectory schema, characterized by movement and direction, finds expression in physical activities like throwing balls, running, or jumping. However, excessive screen time limits these physical engagements, hindering children's understanding of speed, distance, and motion.

Challenges with Transporting Schema:

For children exploring the transporting schema, the joy of moving objects aids in comprehending spatial relationships. Yet, screens offer limited hands-on experiences, replacing physical object manipulation with swiping and tapping actions.

Impact on Connecting Schema:

Children inclined towards the connecting schema enjoy joining objects together, often through building or assembling. However, excessive screen time diminishes the tactile aspects of play, affecting their understanding of how things fit together in the physical world.

Strategies for Teachers:

To counter the negative impact of screen time on these schemas, teachers can implement practical strategies in the classroom:

Trajectory Schema Strategies:

  1. Outdoor Play Stations: Create spaces for throwing, kicking, and running activities to encourage movement and direction awareness.

  2. Storytelling Through Movement: Engage children in physical activities by acting out stories involving movement, fostering imagination while reinforcing trajectory concepts.

  3. Sensory Exploration: Set up sensory bins with different materials, encouraging children to explore movement through tactile experiences.

Transporting Schema Strategies:

  1. Block Play and Construction: Provide diverse blocks and toy vehicles for children to build and transport objects, fostering spatial understanding.

  2. Nature Walks and Collections: Take children on nature walks to collect and transport items, promoting hands-on exploration and spatial awareness.

  3. Role Play: Create scenarios involving transporting objects, like setting up a pretend grocery store, to encourage imaginative play.

Connecting Schema Strategies:

  1. Building and Art Activities: Offer varied materials for building and art, encouraging children to connect and create structures.

  2. Collaborative Projects: Initiate group projects that require children to connect and create something together, promoting teamwork and creativity.

  3. Fine Motor Skill Activities: Incorporate activities like threading beads to support the connecting schema while enhancing fine motor skills.

Encouraging Balanced Play:

Incorporating these strategies fosters a balanced approach, mitigating the negative impact of screen time on preschool play behaviors. By providing diverse, hands-on experiences, educators can nurture a holistic development that encompasses both digital literacy and crucial physical and cognitive skills.


While screens offer immense opportunities, their excessive use can impede the development of vital schemas in preschoolers. Striking a balance between digital engagement and diverse play experiences is essential for nurturing a child's holistic growth.

By understanding the impact of screen time on schemas and implementing hands-on strategies, educators empower young minds, ensuring healthy development and enriching preschool play experiences. In this amalgamation of digital and traditional play, teachers serve as guides, fostering a generation equipped with a comprehensive set of skills for the future.

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