TOTM is unique because of its focus on self-regulation.

In order to learn in elementary school and be successful students, children must develop the ability to self-regulate. Self-regulation encompasses not only emotions, physical behavior and social interactions, but includes the ability to monitor and control cognitive processes such as attention. It includes:

✦ The ability to stay on task
 ✦ Ignore distractions
 ✦ Remember on purpose

✦ Hold two strategies in mind at the same time

✦ The development of self-discipline   ✦ The motivation to succeed


“Our philosophy is that teaching should be more than transmitting facts and skills; it should teach children about learning itself, giving them the mental tools that will enable them to learn on their own.”

In Tools, the focus on self- regulation is embedded into the Tools curriculum:

✦ Self-regulated learning is embedded into all activities.

✦ Teachers use mature intentional dramatic play as an activity to help children develop
 important underlying cognitive skills.

✦ Research-based literacy and math activities are modified to include self-regulatory components.

✦ Specific instructional activities are designed to teach self-regulation and reflective thinking.

✦ Classroom management techniques maximize productive interactions and task involvement.

Even though children may know many facts, without self-regulation they will not learn new things efficiently and will have trouble with more-advanced content.

How Tools is implemented

  • Tools is a core curriculum that works for all children including those with identified special needs and those who will be identified through RtI, Response to Intervention (IDEA reauthorization legislation).
  • Tools activities are multi-level so instruction is individualized within the design of each activity. Ability grouping is not used to individualize instruction.
  • Specific scaffolds for children with special needs as well as those who are non-English speakers (ELL) are written into each activity.
  • Specialized training is given to ensure that classroom teachers and special needs staff can work together in a coordinated manner.
  • Pacing guides are developed that ensure that instruction matches end-of-the-year district benchmarks and standards.

The good news!

Early childhood is a key period for acquiring self-regulation in all its forms. This is why in a Tools of the Mind Kindergarten, teachers work deliberately to help children develop self-regulation.