The Tools of the Mind program has been developed with the following premises:
- The leading activity unique to preschool and kindergarten should be a key activity within the children’s day. In preschool, the leading activity is mature make-believe play. During their kindergarten year, children begin to transition into the leading activity of the primary grades—learning activity. Although play in kindergarten may not look like play in preschool, playful learning in early childhood is a hallmark of Tools of the Mind.
- Children’s learning of cognitive and social-emotional self-regulation or executive function should not be limited to specially designed activities; rather, self-regulation components should be embedded in various content activities.
- Activity content should be research-based and designed to meet all state and national standards in literacy and mathematics, and to cover all developmental domains.
The literacy practices of Tools of the Mind are based on recommendations from the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) , and the National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) , as well as such reviews of the literature as Preventing Reading Difficulties and Eager to Learn. Tools addresses the five aspects of literacy defined by the National Reading Panel (NRP): phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. In addition, the literacy research conducted by Lev Vygotsky’s student Daniel Elkonin has been used to inform instruction in phonemic awareness. The instructional strategy of Scaffolded Writing, developed by Tools of the Mind researchers, has been successfully used in classrooms across the country and has been described in a number of publications of the International Reading Association. Tools of the Mind literacy practices meet state standards and early learning guidelines for kindergarten and preschool and are aligned with Common Core State Standards for kindergarten English Language Arts.
The mathematics practices of Tools of the Mind are based on recommendations from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) , and the National Research Council’s Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics. Activities directly address NCTM’s early childhood focal points: number and operations, geometry, measurement, data analysis, and algebra. For preschoolers, special attention is given to the two main areas found in the research to be particularly important for young children: 1) whole number, operations, and relationships; and 2) geometry, spatial thinking, and measurement. The work of Vygotskian mathematics researchers Vasily Davydov and Leonid Venger have also been used to shape the sequence of skill acquisition and to determine the scope and sequence of activities. Tools of the Mind mathematics practices meet state standards and early learning guidelines for kindergarten and preschool and are aligned with Common Core State Standards for kindergarten Mathematics.
The Tools of the Mind program covers all developmental domains—cognitive, social-emotional, language, physical, creative arts, and approaches to learning. The program emphasizes the development of underlying skills, such as paying attention, remembering on purpose, logic, reasoning, and symbolic representation, as well as the development of literacy, mathematics, and science concepts and skills.
Instructional strategies used in Tools are a combination of child-initiated activities, cooperative paired learning, teacher scaffolding and explicit instruction, individualization through multiple levels of scaffolding, and on-going use of assessment data to tailor interactions to meet individual needs.
- Head Start Outcomes (2009)
- Common Core Literacy Standards for Kindergarten
- Common Core Math Standards for Kindergarten
- GOLD Development and Learning Objectives
If you would like information on state standard alignments, please contact us.