At Wyong Little Learners, every child is a valued individual to be loved, protected and encouraged.

At Wyong Little Learners, every child is a valued individual to be loved, protected and encouraged. We understand the enormity of the role we play in your child’s life and feel privileged to have the opportunity to be a role model, educator, friend, nurturer, co-learner, playmate and mentor during their time with us. We aim to establish a warm, trusting relationship with you and your child, working together to enrich their lives and instil in them a passion for learning.

We see the children (and encourage them to see themselves) as capable, passionate and active learners, as individuals and members of the community. Our learning environments are vibrant and flexible, designed to be responsive to the needs of each child, with a range of intriguing and developmentally-challenging activities to choose from. We encourage learning through fun and discovery, allowing the children to build on their existing knowledge. So we know that when they go home with paint on their arms and sand between their toes they have spent the day actively learning about new things.

INTRODUCING VYGOTSKY

Tools of the Mind

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.

Cultural-Historical Theory

At the core of Vygotsky’s theory (also known as Cultural-Historical theory) is the belief that a child’s development is the result of interactions with their social environment. A child’s social environment encompasses people – families, educators and peers – as well as cultural artefacts such as books and toys, and cultural interactions that take place in the room, at home or on the playground. Children are active partners in all of these interactions, constructing knowledge, skills, and attitudes, not just mirroring the world around them. Essentially, the history and the culture of the society in which a child grows up and the events making up a child’s personal history determine much more than what that child knows or likes – they also determine which mental tools the child will learn and how these tools will shape the child’s mind.

We believe, as Vygotsky suggests, that the most effective learning takes place when the new skills and concepts being taught are just on the edge of emergence – in the Zone of Proximal Development.. When this happens, the child does not simply acquire new knowledge but actually makes progress in his or her development – in Vygotsky’s words, “learning leads development.” Vygotsky recognised that the assistance or scaffolding needed to bring about new skills and concepts within a child’s ZPD may take different forms for children of different ages. According to Vygotsky, “A child’s greatest achievements are possible in play, achievements that tomorrow will become [his or] her basic level of real action.” At Wyong Little Learners, we believe strongly in Vygotsky’s theory and the power of both social and individualised group learning, and you will see evidence of this throughout our teaching methods.