Professional and Parent Testimonials


“I have seen preschools all over the world. There are some excellent examples, particularly in New Zealand, USA and Northern Italy, but this (curriculum) is outstanding. I do not believe I have seen a better one the world over.”
Sir Christopher Ball

Ex-Chancellor of the University of Derby, UK, and co-author of the Start Right Report ‘The Importance of Early Learning’

“What sets Key to Learning apart from any other preschool program I have ever seen is the depth of conceptual planning. It literally sparkles with superb, original, educational ideas. The emphasis is on the development of children’s abilities to think in symbolic terms – leading to higher order thinking skills in later life.”
Colin Rose

Accelerated Learning Systems, UK

“One of my research officers visited one of your private nurseries and was just bowled over by the work the children were doing. She thinks your programme is brilliant! And so do I.”
Professor Kathy Sylva OBE

Senior Research Fellow and Professor of Educational Psychology, Oxford University, UK

“I am astounded by the children’s ability to work together to retell traditional stories. Story Grammar dramatically enhances children’s understanding of stories and their ability to retell stories. The use of language is outstanding.”
Tracy Wilson

Headteacher of Lumley Nursery and Infant School, Durham Local Education Authority, UK

“My mind is still buzzing with the ideas you sparked. If only the whole of the British preschool education could have taken on Vygotskian principles, there would have been no need to write our gloomy report.
Claire Mills

Producer of 'Too Much Too Young' Channel 4 Dispatches, UK

“Key to Learning is phenomenally impressive. It has depth and breadth, rigour and flexibility, insight and inclusion. It truly is a Vygotskian approach, carrying through to the 21st Century his monumental discovery that human learning and development are a unified whole. Unlike any other curriculum I am aware of, ‘Key to Learning’ relates to young children as, in Vygotsky’s words, ‘a head taller than they are’ – which is an essential characteristic of a developmental learning environment.”
Lois Holzman

Author of “Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary Scientist”, USA

“Several decades of research by Vygotskian scholars in Russia had led to the development of Key to Learning prototype. Now this curriculum is available in English and attuned to the needs of children of the 21st century. It accomplishes probably one of the most difficult tasks in the field of early education – preparing children for rigorous formal education and at the same time fostering their age-specific behaviour and creativity.”
Professor Alex Kozulin

Author of ‘Vygotsky’s Psychology: A Biography of Ideas’ and ‘Psychological Tools: A Socio-Cultural Approach to Education’

“As a long-standing theoretician and pragmatist of pre-school education I was convinced that there was nothing else for me to discover in this domain, that I had already achieved everything in my professional career and I was ready to retire.  However, working with “Key to Learning” has changed the routine and taken away the professional burn-out. It gave me the impetus and desire for further research and it made me sure that now I cannot walk away I have so much more to do.”
Anna Natora

Headteacher of Nursery School 14, Masovia, Poland

“Excellent practical ideas with underpinning knowledge and pedagogy, a most inspiring and excellent programme. Key to Learning really opens those windows of opportunity for children “the key to the future.
Una Gossey

Early Years Advisory Officer, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

“As a primary teacher, I’ve been hooked on the work of Lev Vygotsky since first discovering his writing in the 1980s. His theory that human beings have created a set of ‘cultural tools’ which can be passed on through the generations is both  intellectually powerful and professionally empowering. What’s more, the Vygotskian pedagogical model – scaffolding children’s learning within their ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ – provides a truly developmental approach, and his stress on ‘unlocking possibilities’ within children’s minds is a much more exciting and liberating vision of education than our western preoccupation with measuring current progress against arbitrary standards. In Key to Learning Galina Dolya transforms all this Vygotskian theory into a clear, accessible course of practice for children between the ages of three and seven. Through two small-group sessions a day – as part of a language-rich, play-based early years curriculum – the twelve strands of the Developmental Cognitive Curriculum provide them with a basic toolkit to develop learning abilities and enable them to access all areas of human knowledge. As school systems throughout the UK become increasingly aware of the importance of structured ageappropriate practice for the under sevens, I hope Key to Learning will prove the key that helps a generation of British teachers to discover the excitement and effectiveness of Vygotskian principles and practice.”
Sue Palmer

Writer, broadcaster and consultant on the education of young children, UK

“For two years I have evaluated the effect of the Key to Learning Developmental Cognitive Curriculum on a group of young learners in County Durham. Their progress across a range of skills, but particularly in the area of language and communication is remarkable. In my 20 years of research in education, I have never seen a programme which develops language and communication as effectively as Key to Learning does. What is striking about Key to Learning is its inclusivity. Children who previously struggled to acquire new skills, enjoyed their activities as much as the more able. Boys and girls were equally engaged as their imagination flourished. Clearly Key to Learning has a marked impact on the child’s cognitive development.  Key to Learning crosses cultural boundaries and I would recommend that any teacher involved with children in the Early Years should read this book and if possible visit a setting that is using this curriculum. The experience will be unforgettable.
Dr Madeleine Portwood

Specialist Senior Educational Psychologist, Durham Local Education Authority, UK

“As an educational psychologist working within North Ayrshire Council I was delighted to be involved in carrying out a pilot study of Developmental Games one of the components in the Key To Learning curriculum. The programme matched closely with the existing Scottish curriculum and was used with preschool, primary and special school pupils. One of the most interesting findings in the qualitative data from the study was the diversity of impact of the programme on children’s learning and manifestation of this. Although the main emphasis is upon visual and spatial skills and creativity, staff reports indicate significant impact upon, language and communication, co-operation and confidence. I look forward to an ongoing involvement with this exciting curricular programme.
Shonah McKechnie

Senior Educational Psychologist, North Ayrshire Council, Scotland

“I attended your course in North Lanarkshire, Scotland. I was inspired by the concepts behind the ‘Key to Learning’ and the wonderful activities in the books. When the children, Primary One (4 to 5 year olds) commenced, I introduced 4 modules to them. The children responded with great enthusiasm and their level of engagement was such as I had not witnessed before. This cohort had been flagged up from their nursery as having a number of children with a range of social and academic difficulties. As the sessions progressed, I began to observe how quickly this group could absorb new learning across all curricular areas. Moreover the problems that were indicated by the nursery staff did not arise. I have taught Primary One children many times and I can honestly report that the Key to Learning has improved the child’s acquisition of new skills and given me great pleasure working with children who are displaying such a thirst for learning.
Monika Dick

Kilsyth Primary, North Lanarkshire, Scotland

“The process of learning starts when a baby comes into the world and continues during life. This process of learning and development is based upon a dialogue between the child and the environment. During this process, tools and skills are developed in order to fulfil needs and solve problems the child faces. Sometimes this process of learning is random – life supplies the need for learning. On these occasions, there is an option to develop the skills needed for learning, but we cannot be certain that all the concepts and skills that a child needs for a high level of thinking and learning are developed. Therefore developing a structural learning process, which is determined by the culture, and the goals that are set by it, is necessary for the development of a child. Key to Learning is a curriculum that builds tools systematically. These basic tools -concepts and skills, which are a foundation for the development of high levels of thinking and learning – are presented in a clear and precise way through the materials. This creates the opportunity for a child to work with them and build the skills and knowledge required. While working through the problems the programme presents, the children learn how to deal with the task and to develop the strategy needed to solve the problem, as well as use the correct concepts needed for it. The structure of the programme helps to generalise a concept by using it in different contexts and different modalities. It also offers opportunities for repetition, which helps to crystallise experiences into concepts and skills. Using these concepts and skills in different situations and activities helps the child to internalise them so they become part of the child’s repertoire. The learning process within the programme is well structured, built on clearly defined steps, and using a range of modalities, which helps to internalise the targeted concept. The development of these strategies helps the child to develop literacy.
Dr Ruth Kaufmann

University of Tel Aviv, Israel

“The Chelsea Group of Children was the first school in England to use Key to Learning in teaching children with developmental challenges. The Program not only improved cognitive functions across the spectrum but also enabled teachers to spot specific areas of difficulties in a child’s abilities and understanding. We feel this approach should be used in all nursery schools and especially for children with special needs. Within the popular movements in education, one essential component has been missing and that is practical application in the classroom. Galina Dolya has developed learning activities and materials, based on Vygotsky’s Theory of Education, and accompanied by clear and comprehensive instructions which can be immediately incorporated into the early year’s curriculum. Our student’s responses to the programme have obliged us to document our experience of the process and the results so other educators may benefit. We at Chelsea Group have delved into the best, research based practices in education available in Europe and the United States and we have found Key to Learning offers the most comprehensive and effective, yet simplest program we have used over the past 10 years.
Libby Hartman

Director of the Chelsea Group of Children, Developmental Assessment and Diagnostic Teaching Centre, London, UK

“All of the ex-pupils who were followed up in their new educational placement had settled in well and seemed to be achieving at the top of the ability range in the class. Without exception, all the teachers of the children followed up spoke of the children’s positive attitudes to learning, their excellent relationships with adults and peers, their ability to work independently, their articulateness and willingness to contribute to discussion, and their ability to make choices and state preferences. It seemed, thus, as though they had been very well prepared for school and, with regard to the older pupils, had maintained their excellent start.

National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) Interim Evaluation Report 2000

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