Springfield Township Integrated Preschool Program
Tools of the Mind curriculum for preschool age children is a comprehensive curriculum that presents content in an integrated, developmental way so that instruction forms a coherent whole. Instructional strategies used in Tools are a combination of child-initiated activities, 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. Progress is monitored daily, weekly, and monthly.
Self-regulation is a primary result of the use of this curriculum, helping children prepare to be successful in kindergarten. Current research shows that self-regulation (both cognitive and social-emotional) has a stronger association with school readiness than IQ or entry-level reading or math skills. Good self-regulation includes the ability to stay on task, ignore distractions, and hold two strategies in mind at the same time, as well as the development of self-discipline and the motivation to succeed. Aspects of self-regulation such as ability to pay attention, remember on purpose, plan one’s actions, reflect on one’s thinking, and cooperate and act empathetically toward peers, heavily influence a child’s future success in school.
The central focus of Tools of the Mind is the development of both cognitive and social-emotional self-regulation at the same time that academic skills are taught. In the Tools classroom:
- Practice in self-regulated learning is embedded into all activities.
- Teachers use strategies to help children improve the quality of their dramatic make-believe play so it fosters self-regulation development.
- 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 time-productive interactions and task involvement.
Mature intentional make-believe play is the foundation of self-regulation development. It creates conditions in which young children are able to act in a more mature way and use mature mental functions. Children remember more, attend better and have better self-regulation. This kind of play is the only classroom experience that naturally provides three types of interactions which lead to self-regulation: regulation by others, regulation of others, and self-regulation. Without deliberate scaffolding by teachers providing on going opportunities to engage in mature play, many young children will not develop it on their own. In Tools of the Mind, there is explicit design of literacy, mathematics, and science activities so that they further promote the self-regulation developed in play.
Mature intentional play has the following characteristics:
- Supports expressing and representing intention through play planning.
- Has explicit roles and implicit rules.
- Uses symbolic props.
- Has an extended time frame.
- Includes extensive use of language.
- Involves imaginary pretend scenario.
Children are assessed daily through review of their play plans, observation, and through the use of assessment tools that review a child’s level of ability in activities.