How to create a regulated, inclusive community

School leaders, want to start bringing self-regulation development to your school community? This just might be a great topic for your next staff development. And it’s straight from the minds that created Tools of the Mind.

The challenge


What we heard from teachers and administration at after implementing Tools at

How to create a regulated, inclusive community


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The process

Committee search to choose the right curriculum

Selection of Tools of the Mind curriculum & professional development

Tools training and implementation for all relevant staff

Teaching and learning review and outcomes

School leaders and teachers, you know how challenging it can be to create a healthy, vibrant school community. One of the biggest factors can be the self-regulation development of each student in the community. Here’s your chance to bring self-regulation development to your school community, one classroom and one child at a time.

To know Tools is to know that self-regulation development is near and dear to us. It’s built into every activity all day long for Tools preschool and kindergarten. That’s why Tools co-founders, Dr. Deborah Leong and Dr. Elena Bodrova along with Tools co-developer Barb Wilder-Smith, created a whole guide to self-regulation development. This guide was featured in the most recent issue of Principal Magazine, a publication of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. And because we know how much is on your plate, here are a few highlights from this impactful piece. 

Your community without self-regulation

First, let’s start by painting a picture of a school community that is not regulated. Depending on the state of your current community, this may not be too hard to imagine. And it’s important to mention, there is always a range of self-regulation development in every community and every classroom. According to Leong, Bodrova and Wilder-Smith, “We know that without self-regulation, children experience struggles in the following areas:

  • Controlling their feelings when they are upset;
  • Engaging in positive social interactions;
  • Making friends;
  • Paying attention during classroom activities;
  • Remembering information on purpose;
  • Possessing cognitive flexibility; and
  • Developing intrinsic motivation to learn.

With self-regulation, children grow and thrive in their social-emotional development and academically.” 

Understanding self-regulation, aka executive function

It’s worth noting that the phrases self-regulation and executive function can be used interchangeably. At Tools, through our thirty years of experience with administrators, teachers and families, we’ve learned that the term self-regulation is more clear and so that’s generally how we refer to it. In “Creating a Self-regulated Community of Learners,” Leong, Bodrova and Wilder-Smith break down exactly what self-regulation, aka executive function, is:

According to “Executive Functions,” by Adele Diamond, three components of executive function make up self-regulation. Here are some examples of each.

1. Inhibitory Effort Self-Control: Examples include controlling emotional arousal, acting appropriately when tempted to do otherwise, delaying gratification, and staying on task, even when bored.

2.Working Memory: Examples include holding information in your mind, answering a question and explaining how you got the answer, and remembering all the steps in directions and how to follow them.

3. Cognitive Flexibility: An example is being able to change the focus of attention from the words in a math problem to the operations on numbers in the problem or changing focus from decoding a single sound to blending the multiple sounds into a word.

Your community with self-regulation:

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably already seeing the value of prioritizing this in your community. And if you’re not convinced yet, according to Leong, Bodrova and Wilder-Smith, “Self-regulation looks like:

  • Students regulating themselves whether an adult is present or not;
  • Students following the rules whether an adult is present or not;
  • Students following the rules when a different adult is present;
  • Students following the rules even in a different context outside of the classroom, like on a field trip, during an assembly, or in the cafeteria; and
  • Students solving disputes about sharing and who goes first on their own based on a fair system of rules.

In the short term, prioritizing self-regulation development can help you create a more regulated, inclusive community. And in the long term, we know that self-regulation is just one of the many tools that children will use in all of school and life. 

Ready to start building your regulated, inclusive community? Start now by heading over to NAESP to download the full guide to “Creating a Self-regulated Community of Learners.”