Integral Approach and Inquiry
The Integral Approach is the foundation of our pedagogical philosophy, relating to the interconnectedness of all of life, from an individual to the universe. WonderTree utilizes the Integral Approach as a comprehensive way of helping your child develop—from their personality, to physical awareness, to cognitive function and more, WonderTree aims to develop well-rounded, aware individuals. This approach helps us to work with each child to formulate a map of their strengths, which they can then capitalize on. This self-mastery will enable the children to guide themselves on their journey towards a self-designed life.
Many traditional education systems use the “empty vessel” philosophy, which view children as an empty brain into which the teacher must pour information. With this philosophy, children are often discouraged from asking questions. With an inquiry-based learning approach, we consider ourselves to be educators rather than teachers, as we draw out the potential of a child and take advantage of and encourage a child's natural curiosity. Children are actively encouraged to ask questions and use their critical thinking skills. The emphasis is more on the process of learning, rather than the outcome of learning, because when a child understands how to learn, rather than what to learn, they can become a life-long learner and succeed in the world.
Nature and Nurture
WonderTree chooses to use the Integral Approach and a co-learner environment because we want to bring the unique, inherent traits within your child to light and nurture them. We provide our learners with valuable outdoor space in order to play, learn and grow with nature. Through the use of our green space, engaging playground, and wondrous learning garden, students will experience their interconnectedness with nature and learn to appreciate and nurture it in return. With this concept in mind, WonderTree strives to incorporate environmental sustainability in every aspect of its operations, from recycling to guiding our students towards environmental awareness.
Central to the I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D.
approach, self-mastery is the key to awareness, well-being and wisdom. When we inspire a learner's growth mindset, foster willpower and grit, and encourage positive relationships with others, we nurture a love of lifelong learning and a desire to become the person we were meant to be. Self-mastery is a lifelong process. By starting this journey with WonderTree, children are better equipped to become the designers of their own lives by mastering their mind, body, heart and spirit.
Play and Practice
Extensive research has proven the numerous benefits of play, however Einstein identified that, in fact, “Play is the highest form of research.”
Play helps the development of a child's critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration skills in addition to a child's cognitive, physical, social-emotional growth, body awareness and well-being. Anywhere from 90-95% of the brain develops in the first 5 years of a child's life, during this time, the brain forms as many as 700 neural connections per second in order to accommodate this growth. The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons in complex, integral and functional ways that have a decisive impact on the architecture of the brain and on the nature and extent of capabilities later, in adult life.
Each time your child participates in an engaged activity, neurons fire and create pathways in the brain. With practice and repetition, these pathways become stronger until they are considered skills. For example, when you see your child stacking blocks, the seemingly simple actions of grasp and release, in combination with hand eye coordination and cause and effect are forming new neural pathways in the brain that will eventually lead to skills.
Imagination and Intuition
WonderTree education also encourages the development of a child's imagination, not only for artistic creativity, but also because imagination is necessary for setting goals, being a leader and designing one's own future.
Intuition. Wisdom. A sixth sense. That gut feeling. This sensation is our most powerful natural wisdom. For a child, this sense of wisdom may be more important than many people realize. Intuition helps alert us to danger, providing guidance for making decisions, solving problems and finding solutions. WonderTree educators nurture this inner sense in order to help your child maintain a clear connection to their own inner teacher.
Respect and Relationships
Learning doesn't happen without relationships. Learning is mutual and deeply social.
Through the relationships that children create in their time at WonderTree, they will learn to have respect for themselves, others and the wider community and environment. Our educators model the concept of respect and sustainability through their interactions with learners within the learning environment.
We walk the walk – as we believe that children learn through imitation and have an innate sense of truth and authenticity. In line with our value of sustainability, WonderTree programs such as FamilyFun and BeWell will help co-learners to have greater respect for the environment and for society at large.
Experience and Empowerment
Our life experiences shape our character and worldview. They influence how we feel, how we think and who we will become. Learning through experience is “learning through doing and reflection.”
Following Confucius' advice: “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Let me do and I understand,” WonderTree creates an inspiring environment, encouraging our children to perceive, inquire, reflect, imagine, create and inspire others. Our educators shape the program to develop the learners' capacity to think deeply, make close observations, do experiments, and question everything. This empowerment means children can achieve goals, affect change, and live a healthy, positive life.
Design and Document
WonderTree's educators and programs nurture children's natural design-based, creative thinking by encouraging children to freely choose and design their own learning plan. Using their perceptions of the world around them, children are enabled to follow their naturally inquisitive nature to plan the course of their learning journey. As children reflect on their learning and build on their unique strengths, their imagination will lead them to create inspirational models of learning for other learners around them.
WonderTree celebrates the children's learning through voice, photographic and video recordings; 'share, inquire and inspire' circles, birthday celebrations; a weekly self-mastery reflection; Learner-Created Exhibitions and Inspired Children Conferences. These are all collaborative opportunities for educators to assess and evaluate the children's progress in learning about their community (belonging), themselves (being) and their ability to perceive, inquire, reflect, imagine, create and inspire (becoming). In this way, when the child's community of co-learners meets to discuss the child, there will be ample documentation to study and reflect upon how the child is achieving self-mastery.