Isbella's Vision: Melbourne Girls Grammar School ELC

Building students’ agency with heart and compassion 

At the Melbourne Girls Grammar Early Learning Centre, educators support each child to develop a strong sense of agency and the skills to think independently.

We also encourage our students to look outside of their own communities and think of others, which helps them to understand who they are and their place in the world.

Through one of our inspiring four-year-old learners, Isabella, we witnessed the power of ‘learner agency’ as a simple idea from a student captured the minds and hearts of our entire community through encouraging others to recycle toys.

The idea of philanthropy was spurred on by the educators who introduced the girls to the notion of giving to those less fortunate through a ‘Coats for Kids’ initiative. Isabella had the wherewithal to make the giant leap from bringing in old coats to donating unwanted toys.

“First I said to my teacher I want to start a toy giveaway and I want everyone to bring the old toys they don’t need anymore. I did that because there are little kids that don’t have any toys and that makes them sad.”

— Isabella, 4-year-old early learning student

Recognising the issue, Isabella wanted to act. Observing that many toys at home she no longer played with, Isabella decided she wanted to donate them to less fortunate children. She wondered if her peers wanted to support this cause with her.

Canvasing opinion through surveys, eliciting the support of the adults such as the Head of Early Learning, Mrs Margaret Sellar, and the staff in each of the rooms, she formulated her plan. She next embarked on presenting her idea to all five ELC groups and achieved an enthusiastic response.

Driving the initiative from start to finish, Isabella also collaborated with the Head of Early Learning to compose an email to all ELC families to request their help in collecting unwanted toys. She organised and decorated the collection boxes and helped sort and pack ready for collection. The result was a colourful collection of toys set for a new life.

The collective effort from the ELC children and their families was overwhelming, and two charities — St Kilda Mums and Big Group Hug — collected the toys to distribute to needy families.

“'Isabella’s Vision' was an initiative that came from the heart of one of our caring students. To galvanise a whole ELC community and drive the initiative through to completion, is an example of the way our educators foster each child’s sense of agency. We encourage our girls to think critically and creatively about the ways that they can make a difference to the wider community. We are very proud of Isabella and look forward to following her learning journey as she progresses through the school.”

— Margaret Sellar, Head of Early Learning

Building agency in young children is part of what we do at MGGS. From the earliest age, our educators curate learning opportunities that stimulate curiosity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. These skills are essential for the continuously changing world that we all live in. Isabella is remarkable – she epitomises the future. She shows the agency necessary to take ownership of ideas, express them with confidence and have the values we all hold dear at MGGS – Courage, Integrity, Compassion, and Self Discipline.

With children like Isabella, the future will be in good hands indeed. Donate. Volunteer. Partner. were the words painted on the side of the van that came to collect the toys. They are powerful words; they speak volumes to adults encouraging a philanthropic mindset and collectively define what to do – how to act.

Melbourne Girls Grammar Early Learning Centre is an ISV Member School.