At Wyong Little Learners we strongly believe, as influential theorist Vygotsky suggests, that just as physical tools extend children’s physical abilities, so too can mental tools extend their mental abilities, enabling them to solve problems and create solutions in the modern world. When applied to children, this implies that, to successfully function in school and beyond, children need to learn more than a set of facts and skills. They need to master a set of mental tools – tools of the mind. According to Vygotsky, until children learn to use these mental tools, their learning is largely controlled by the environment; they attend only to the things that are brightest or loudest, and they can remember information only if has been repeated many times. Once children have mastered mental tools, they are able to take charge of their own learning, by attending and remembering in an intentional and purposeful way.
While the use of certain mental tools will help to transform children’s cognitive behaviours, still others will aid in the transformation of their physical, social and emotional behaviours. By utilising mental tools, children can transition from being ‘slaves to the environment’ into true ‘masters’ of their own behaviour. As children are taught and practice an increasing number of mental tools, they transform not only their external behaviours, but also their minds, leading to the emergence of higher mental functions.