On many platforms, the application of tools of the mind in teaching has received praise for having a positive impact on academic achievement. Despite the results, only limited research has been conducted to evaluate the effect of tools of the mind on the academic performance of students and on early childhood development. Nevertheless, the limited research done on tools of the mind has proved the method to be effective in boosting performance. This paper explores the effectiveness of instruments of the mind in early childhood development with a particular focus on young children with special needs.
Tools of the Mind
It is hard and sometimes impossible to cut wood using hands, but the task becomes easy when one uses a saw. The saw functions as a tool that extends people’s abilities beyond the normal. Human beings have invented physical tools with a view of increasing their capacities. In a layman’s language, tools of the mind can be defined as mental apparatuses used to boost the capacity of the brain to perform optimally.
Tools of the mind are based on the concept of self-regulation, which is the central tenet of social development (Bodrova & Deborah, 2007). Self-regulation enables children to act in a planned manner and, as such, allowing them to govern their behavior. The tools assume that when children start school, they lack self-regulation, which is primary for the control of emotional, physical, and, most importantly, cognitive behavior that enables performance in learning (Mackay, 2013). As such, the focus of the tools of the mind is to nurture self-regulation through participation in different activities.
Strengths and Weakness of Tools of the Mind for Children with Special Needs
One of the key advantages of the tools of the mind curriculum is the integration of playing into learning. The play-learn component of the tools curriculum is particularly important for children with special needs. It keeps them active and engaged by offering social support. Play is conducive to the development of a child. It has specific features that bring extra benefits for children. The special features include roles, rules, and hypothetical situations (Bodrova & Leong, 2001). The play is expected to give children the freedom to act. However, it is restricted due to the underlying rules (Barnett et al., 2008). In essence, the play-learn activity presents more constraints than any other activity in which children can participate.
The interesting part about the play-learn activities is that fun is derived from the ability to encourage children to abide by rules. By restricting themselves to the set limits, they learn to manage their behavior (Bodrova & Leong, 2001). In other words, play initiates purposeful and deliberate behavior at the highest attainable level of a child. Also, such games as the freeze game are modified further so that children can understand the game better. As a result, they may become more thoughtful and deliberate in their actions. Children with special needs are often anxious. The games reduce anxiety by acting as a distraction. More importantly, the games lead to self-discovery and make children explorative.
Even though the play component of the tools curriculum is effective, it has a weakness when it comes to children with special needs. The tools curriculum is rigid and does not sufficiently accommodate children with special needs (Buchanan & Johnson, 2009). For instance, when it comes to children with disabilities, executing the moves in the freeze game is very challenging and sometimes impossible. For instance, in a case where a child uses a wheelchair due to due to a shortcoming on a part of their body, he or she may find it a bit hard to engage in the game. Equally, it is hard to implement the tools curriculum for children with special needs. While other children may find it easy to cope with some of the challenges, it may take handicapped children longer and greater effort to achieve the objectives of the curriculum. However, since the types of disabilities and mental illnesses differ among the population, different tools under the curriculum accommodate various disabilities (Rivers, Brackett, Reyes, Elbertson, & Salovey, 2013). The intension of having tools that vary in accordance with child-specific needs is to ensure that no child is left out of the tools curriculum. Nevertheless, for the tools of the mind to be sufficiently effective, they have to be implemented holistically.
The goal of tools of the mind to help children develop self-regulation is effective in helping them achieve higher performance in education. The tools of the curriculum include play as its primary tenet. Play is the major aspect of the tools of the mind because it can accommodate children with special needs. Play is one of the most effective learning tools for early childhood special education since it leads to self-discovery and reduces anxiety by acting as a distraction. However, the tools curriculum has a weakness too. The major weakness is that it is rigid. It requires some modifications to accommodate children with special needs.
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