What Are Urges In Early Childhood?


Urges; a strong desire or impulse.

Why do children do the things they do? When you get out of bed in the morning, do you have a certain order in which you make the bed? Or perhaps you often brush your teeth starting from the back and working towards the front, or maybe front to back? These thoughts and actions all link to our innate urges.

Urges are thoughts that our brain tells us strongly to do something. You may notice a child knocking down a block tower, or collecting tiny little pebbles “treasures” that they find in the garden. Children feel the need to do something without any logical reasoning as to why sometimes.

Pennie Brownlee summarises urges in the list below, with the importance of having resources to support them.

An alternative word to Urges often heard in the Early Childhood 
community is Schema's. This term was introduced by Jean Piaget in 1926.

How do urges link to play? Well… I work at a mixed age preschool with children aged 2 – 5 years. Every child has the urge to do something. At the end of the day it is always wonderful to think… ‘where did all the wood cookies go?’, only to open a few bags in the dress-ups and find a large collection of mixed and matched loose parts. The urge to collect and gather. Those wood cookies and loose parts may have been used in their role playing, or food for their play kitchen – who says a wood cookie can’t be a donut or hamburger bun, or possibly it could be a collection of ‘beautiful’ things that they have found.

Linking Urges (Schema’s) to learning stories / assessment is more simpler than you might imagine. For example, a story about a child who is starting to take an interest in water play. Here we may come across the urge to play with water and transport it from container to container, or they may want to throw (trajectory) the water in the air and see where it lands. In that moment a child is learning meaningfully through exploration.

  • Will this big container of water fit into this small container? – Problem solving & science.
  • Can I get the water to land on the concrete from here? – Experimenting with distance
  • What sound does the water make when it hits the ground? – Developing senses
  • How does the water feel on my skin – Developing senses
  • It may provide an opportunity for social skills and language development – vocabulary

 If you want to learn more about Urges I recommend attending a “This is ‘Urge’n’t” Kimberley Crisp Professional Development course.

Categories: Urges

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