Tools of the Mind provides a teaching practices approach to SEL. It includes programming for grades preK-K and demonstrates evidence of effectiveness in preK-k. Translated materials for Tools of the Mind are available in Spanish.
- Instructional practices
- Relationship building
- Positive classroom management
- Systemic support for SEL
- Family Intervention Component
- Activities and Resources for Home
- Onsite in-person training
- Virtual training
- Offsite training
- Train the trainer model
- Administrator support
- Technical assistance
- Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
- Online resource library
- Self-report tools for monitoring implementation
- Observational tools
- Tools for measuring student success
Evidence of effectiveness
Results from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) conducted in the 2002-2003 school year (published in 2008) supported the effectiveness of Tools of the Mind for preschool children. This evaluation included 210 PreK students in an urban elementary school in the Northeast US (Hispanic = 93%; FRPL =80%). This evaluation found that students in classrooms who participated in the Tools of the Mind program had greater improvements in Spanish and English language development standardized scores and teacher-reported problem behaviors (i.e., externalizing and internalizing behaviors) compared to students in control classrooms (outcomes assessed 6 to 8 months after baseline, after controlling for pretest outcomes).
Results from a randomized controlled trial (published in 2014) supported the effectiveness of Tools of the Mind for early elementary school students. This evaluation included 759 kindergarten students enrolled in schools in the US Northeast (5-92% of the student body eligible for FRPL at participating schools). The study found that students who participated in the program had significant improvements in mathematics academic ability, executive functioning, and working memory compared to students in the control group (outcomes reported approximately nine months after baseline, while controlling for outcome pretest). Students’ gains in mathematics abilities persisted into the fall of their 1st grade year (approximately 3 months after posttest).
Results from a randomized controlled trial (published in 2018) supported the effectiveness of Tools of the Mind for early elementary school students. This evaluation included 715 kindergarten students enrolled in schools in the US Northeast (white = 73%, multi-racial = 13%; 50% of schools in the sample were classified medium- to high-poverty). This study found that students who participated in the program had significant reduction in teacher-reported aggression and conduct problems, as well as general problem behaviors compared to students in the control group (outcomes reported approximately nine months after baseline, while controlling for outcome pretest). Additionally, treatment students increased significantly in teacher-reported self-regulation, emotional regulation, and positive teacher-child relationships compared to students in the control group.
Evidence shown in gradesPre-K, K School characteristics
- Hispanic / Latinx
- Multi-racial / other
- Low income
Percentage Low Income
- Eligible for FRPL: 92%
Study design type
Greater than 350 students included in study design type
Multiple school districts included at study design type
- Improved academic performance
- Reduced emotional distress
- Improved identity development and agency
- Reduced problem behaviors
- Improved school climate
- Improved school connectedness
- Improved social behaviors
- Improved teaching practices
- Improved other SEL skills and attitudes
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- Accepted by CASEL
Barnett, W. S., Jung, K., Yarosz, D.J., Thomas, J., Hornbeck, A., Stechuk, R., & Burns, S. (2008). Educational effects of the Tools of the Mind curriculum: A randomized trial. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23, 299-313.
Blair, C., McKinnon, R. D., & Daneri, M. P. (2018). Effect of the tools of the mind kindergarten program on children’s social and emotional development. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 43, 52-61.
Blair, C., & Raver, C. C. (2014). Closing the achievement gap through modification of neurocognitive and neuroendocrine function: Results from a cluster randomized controlled trial of an innovative approach to the education of children in kindergarten. PloS one, 9, e112393
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- Other references
Diamond, A., Lee, C., Senften, P., Lam, A., & Abbott, D. (2019). Randomized control trial of Tools of the Mind: Marked benefits to kindergarten children and their teachers. PloS one, 14(9), e0222447