tools of the mind

An article in this morning’s New York Times magazine has set my brain on fire.  It’s about a curriculum called Tools of the Mind that seeks to teach preschoolers self-control and executive function.  I remember reading this article from NPR on it earlier this year, and am really interested in putting some of these ideas into practice.

One thing in the NYT article that really spoke to me was the importance of play, and how so many kindergartens these days are going to a pure academic focus.  That’s certainly true at my school, and I feel lucky that in pre-K, I can give my students centers time (free play) every day.  But — from what I read in the article, I could be doing a better job.  I’m going to give the article to Miss Slinger to read, and then have a talk with her to see what the two of us can do together in our classroom.  For one thing, it might be a good idea to do some modeling and scaffolding of pretend play, to help the children learn how to do it, or to have richer experiences when they are in the house corner.

Anyone else know anything about Tools of the Mind and teaching executive function to preschoolers that they can share with me?

11 thoughts on “tools of the mind

  1. I’ll share with you if you share with me! Thank you for these links. I’m working on a teacher research project on guided play so I’d love more information you find on it, esp. in how it relates to executive function. My neighbor is working on her phd and is spending a lot of time researching executive function in young children. I’ll see if I can pick her brain for both of us.

  2. I’ve gone through and read all of the articles you linked above. Now I have so many questions/thoughts/ideas. I’m going to share this with the teachers I work with and see what we can brainstorm. I would love to hear what you and Miss Slinger decide to put in place!

  3. Hello – I found your site today while doing search for “preschool reader’s workshop” – I am experimenting with blogging and recognized your host. I came home to look you up again and found that you had read the same article I read today. I forwarded the article on to the early childhood staff in our district and am looking forward to the discussion. My site isn’t as cool as yours – I’m such a novice but I’ll keep checking you and out and use you as a mentor! Keep up the voice!

  4. Organized chaos — did you manage to find a Tools of the Mind website? I googled it and couldn’t find one. It will be great to share ideas with you — I love your blog and look forward to hearing what you have to say.

    Today I’m going to try to do a little “intentionality” work at centers time, to get the children to think seriously about where they want to work, and what they want to do there. I’m also going to try to do a centers time closure, where we talk and reflect about the work we did.

    a bacon — welcome to my blog! Thanks for the compliment, and thanks for joining the conversation.

  5. Hi!
    I love your blog!!! I am also so interested in tools of the mind and currently reading the book. I just started play plans and they are really helping the kids during free choice.

  6. I have just discovered Tools of the Mind from the book Nurtureshock on the eve of my new job of stay-at-home-mom of a 3 yr old girl! Not being a teacher by profession, I am a bit intimidated to create play plans with the limited knowledge I have on the topic. Could you direct me to some play plans? Much appreciated!

    • Juliette, I haven’t found any! I haven’t been able to incorporate Tools of the Mind yet; I’ve got too many other things to fit into my short mornings with my students. But I’m still interested, and still looking for guidance.

  7. I am currently taking a class that is discussing the book Nurture Shock. For our final activity, we have been asked to “construct a lesson plan that incorporates some or all of the behaviors that the Tools program promotes, but directed at middle or high schoolers.” Can you really do this? If you haven’t learned to regulate you behavior by middle school wouldn’t you have been expelled? I don’t know how to approach this request.

    • I think it’s doable. It’s not just about regulating your behavior; it’s about learning how to make a plan and follow through. I think you could do a lesson that involves choices and options, and have the students make a plan for what they will do and how they will know they are done. Let me know how it goes.

  8. I Feel very fortunate to work in a school where tools of the mind has been adopted. Maybe this is something that Mrs. Slinger and you can talk to your district about. The Tools website is through metopotian College, and I believe can be accessed through Tools of the mind .org

    • Alas, Miss Slinger is on leave of absence from her job at another school, on bedrest and about to become a mother. But I will look into Tools of the Mind further! Thanks for the information.

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