What your child is learning in Preschool, Pre-k, and Kindergarten
The Academic Plan begins with our youngest students in preschool, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. DCPS is excited to have an early childhood curriculum called Tools of the Mind, which will help your children acquire the skills they need to set a foundation for long-term success in school.
Through this program, students learn to focus their attention, remember things for long periods of time, and cooperate in the classroom. These skills are taught at the same time children are being exposed to rigorous academic skills.
In the 2010-2011 school year, DCPS piloted the Tools of the Mind curriculum in two schools. This year, this promising program has been expanded to an additional 26 schools, for a total of 28 schools and more than 150 classrooms.
What does a Tools of the Mind classroom look like?
In a Tools of the Mind classroom, there is a constant hum in the classroom as students work together and with the teacher throughout the day. Because students are so engaged in learning and having fun while they do it, teachers in these classrooms have far fewer disciplinary issues.
This creates a learning environment that feels welcoming and allows teachers to tailor academic instruction to individual students.
As an example of how the program integrates academic and cognitive development, Tools of the Mind preschool classrooms have children learn restraint by working in pairs on math or letters. Each child holds a card marked with an ear, lips, hand or check as a reminder of his or her role -- to listen, read, perform a task or check a partner's work.
In kindergarten classrooms, the teacher is able to provide reading instruction appropriate for each student and level because the students are able to carry out their center assignments with the support of each other and the classroom teaching assistant.
What kind of growth can parents expect to see in their children?
Parents can expect to see steady growth in students’ language skills and will be impressed by the topics their children talk about at school. For example, kindergarten students will read and play about adventures in places such as Egypt, Africa and the Amazon.
A key element of the Tools of the Mind curriculum is teaching students to use writing as a “thinking tool.” Parents should expect to see daily writing from each student involved in the program.
Even 3-year-olds will receive instruction in how to express their thoughts through “writing” pictures. By the end of the year, many of the kindergarten students will compose simple summaries to the chapter books the teacher reads to them.
Finally, parents of students in Tools of the Mind classrooms continually report how happy their children are to go to school. They are excited to explore the next topic of study with their teachers and their peers.
Where can parents get more information?