Focus on Self Regulation

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 the 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.  Inadequate self-regulation is associated with discipline problems and poor social adjustment.

Helping young children improve their self-regulation is critical to closing the achievement gap for many at-risk children, as well as helping all children reach their highest potential.

“A growing body of research indicates that a lack of self-regulation may be the root cause of many children’s lack of school readiness.”

The central focus of Tools of the Mind (Tools) is the development of both cognitive and social-emotional self-regulation at the same time that academic skills are taught.  In a Tools preschool:

  • Practice in self-regulated learning is embedded into all activities.
  • Teachers use strategies to help children improve the quality of 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.

“Play creates the zone of proximal development of the child.  In play, the child is always behaving beyond his age, above his usual every day behavior; in play, he is, as it were, a head above himself.  Play contains in a concentrated form, as in the focus of a magnifying glass, all developmental tendencies; it is as if the child tries to jump above his usual level.”—Les Vygetsky