Tools for Life is pleased to announce publication of the 2017 Early Learning teaching manual offering emergent learning for Child Care, and inquiry-led, play-based Skills for Full Day Kindergarten. The FDK section of the teaching manual aligns with 2016 Ontario Ministry of Education guidelines regarding play-based learning. This FDK section was completed in collaboration with content partners from Upper Grand District School Board, Wellington Catholic District School Board, Canadian Mental Health Association (Waterloo Wellington Dufferin) and the County of Wellington Child Care Services. We thank them for their dedication and interest in serving the needs of children.
All of the Skills presented in the new manual were piloted for one year by educators in both School Boards. We think FDK educators, child care staff, and agency consultants will find this updated resource to be an engaging (and current) value-add to the existing Early Learning Kit.
Tools for Life continues to support all children in their growth towards resilience and wellness through self-regulation and social emotional learning.
Today’s children are taught reading, writing and math before they start kindergarten with an emphasis on the earlier the better. We are so concerned with the intellectual development of our children that we barely touch on their social and emotional development; which is really odd considering that we human beings are affected by emotions in all aspects and at every turn in our lives.
Our memories are triggered by sights, smells and sounds but they are made vivid by the range of emotions attached to them. Hearing a specific song can bring about a memory of a particular time. We have probably heard the same song hundreds of times. There was one time when it was attached to a strong emotion – maybe a first love, junior prom, or a special date; but it is the emotion that underpins the memory.
Memory is only one way that emotions affect our lives. Emotions can cloud our minds, control our actions, but they can also propel us to achieve great things when properly directed. They are powerful and as adults we often find them difficult to handle. Children develop an awareness of emotions almost as soon as they start acquiring language skills. This is the perfect time to educate them on how to begin to identify and handle emotions, and build resilience for those times when the going gets tough.
A group of professionals working with an organization concentrating on the mental health and well-being of children created a program called Tools for Life®, designed to help children, teachers, care givers and parents navigate this difficult area.
Tools for Life® is a Social Emotional Learning program that provides practical strategies and tools that better enable children from age 3 to Grade 8 cope with their emotions, and act and react appropriately. The children learn to identify their own feelings and recognize body clues as to how others are feeling. They acquire decision-making strategies to channel these emotions into positive interactions and respectful communication. Self-awareness, empathy and self-regulation are enhanced by the program’s 8 specific Tools for dealing with everyday social interactions.
Tools for Life® in the classroom allows children through play-based games, songs, activities and lessons to hone social skills, critical thinking and build confidence and resilience without aggression. And recently Tools for Life® HomeSTART, the home version, was added to help families practice and model these same emotional skills with their children at home.
The Tools for Life® program has been very successful in a growing number of school districts, homes and child care facilities throughout the US and Canada. More information on the program is available at toolsforliferesources.com.
From a young age children need to be empowered with tools and strategies to cope with conflict, build positive relationships, and realize their full potential both individually and as an integral part of the community.
Author: Ms. Lisa Lane
May 5, 2015: Great hearing from everyone! Your feedback is appreciated.
We are pleased when our clients take the time to provide insights as to how they are using the Tools for Life resource.
From a Special Education Resource teacher –
“The “Tools for Life Program” has and continues to be a valuable program for the students at my school. To be able to instill the kinds of lessons and life skills in the classroom that this program supports has become more and more important in a world where children struggle with self- regulation and emotional issues.”
And this from a healthcare leader who works within a public Agency offering special students individualized programming in classrooms. The Agency Team works co-operatively with teaching staff to provide continuity in the care, treatment and education of these students. An important part of these programs is the development of personal life management skills. Individual education and treatment plans are created for each student to address his or her strengths and needs. –
“We have used the Tools for Life program in our Section 23 programs with great success. We find that many of the visual cues and techniques fit very well with our Social Skills and Emotional Regulation work with the students.
We usually start by introducing one aspect (we like to start with Listening Bodies) and help the students to understand this concept. We develop our social skills training around incorporating this strategy and spend a week or so on the topic until we are sure the class has a good understanding. From there each classroom is different as to what they introduce next. Some teachers have a set order they like to teach the strategies in, others base it on the needs of the group of students they have at the time.
We display the posters in the room and ensure that all staff in the school and the families we work with are familiar with the language so that the terminology because the norm for the child no matter the setting.”
Thanks to the generosity and local community spirit of a private corporation, Metro Label, and working with Community Liaison Officers from Toronto Police Services – Division 42, a group of schools in the Scarborough area of Toronto will now be using Tools for Life® Resources in their Early Learning classrooms. Tools for Life is all about community partnerships and we are pleased to be an active partner in this project, providing foundational support for children that can lead to rich opportunities for learning.
Ms. Flora Nordoff, St. Matthew Catholic Elementary, Hamilton, Ontario
Tools for Life wishes to congratulate Ms. Flora Nordoff on being named by The Learning Partnership as one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals. Ms. Nordoff has been a leader in integrating Tools for Life programs in her school. Ms. Nordoff, as your kids say, “You rock!”
“Great principals are the foundation of great public education – the cornerstone of Canada’s future. The Learning Partnership is pleased to salute 40 individuals as Canada’s Outstanding Principals™ of 2015 who demonstrate innovation, have an entrepreneurial spirit and are creative in finding solutions and opportunities.
These exemplary leaders come from every province and territory in the country and will receive their awards at the 11th annual Canada’s Outstanding Principals™ gala on February 24, 2015, in Toronto.”
- Tools for Life
Posted by Dr. Phil Burchfield at 8/25/2014
Often when children are in kindergarten or first grade, they don’t know how to recognize or express their emotions if they’re frustrated or upset.
When this spills over into the classroom it can cause discipline issues. But by using a teaching method called Tools for Life, teachers at Clinton Park Elementary are working with students to recognize and express these emotions and prevent negative behavior. The Tools for Life program also extends through junior high.
(Clinton Park Elementary School teachers participate in training for the Tools for Life program. They are incorporating this teaching method in their classrooms as a way to help kindergartners and first-graders recognize and properly express emotions.)
Kindergarten teacher Paige Carter said Tools for Life “was the best training I have received in 17 years.”
“I use it daily in my classroom,” she said. “We start each morning talking about how we feel. I let them know it is OK to have feelings. Everyone does. We learn different ways to deal with what we’re feeling.”
Last year her class got along very well and had very few, if any, behavior issues, she said.
“If a student has an issue come up they are taught to use tools to help them figure out how to solve the issue on their own, without me,” she said. “I was amazed that they could actually do it. I am actually able to teach all day instead of solving problems for all my little ones.”
Carter also has a quiet area set up in the room with quiet objects, posters and tools for students to use if they are having a bad day.
(Tools for Life Corporation President Allen Croxall and education consultant Pat Bell coordinated Tools for Life training for Clinton Park teachers.)
Pat Bell of Bell Consultants, the education consultant for Tools for Life in Mississippi said the Clinton Public School District is the first school district in the United States to implement Tools for Life in its schools. Clinton Park began using this social skills curriculum last year with kindergartners and is using it this year with kindergarten and first-grade students. Next year it will be implemented with second-graders at Northside Elementary.
(Clinton Park teachers Gentry Booth, left, and Kasey Ambrose)
“Tools for Life is all about options,” said kindergarten teacher Debbie Sigler. “This program teaches children how to solve problems on their own. They learn communications skills and how to correctly express themselves. There are different ways to solve problems they have with another student.”
Students think about the best way to solve their problem, she said, including sharing, taking turns, compromising, talking it out, ignoring it, walking away, apologizing or asking for help.
“We tell children it’s OK to feel sad, lonely or other emotions, and we learn what we can do to change that,” Sigler said. “They learn to give ‘Put Ups’ which is saying nice things to someone. We talk about how people feel when you are unkind and say mean things to them, or ‘Put
Downs.’ If they say a ‘Put Down,’ then they have to say a ‘Put Up.’”
If a child hits another student, for example, Sigler asks the student what happened and why they hit.
“We talk about it so next time they will know a better way to handle the situation,” she said. “Teachers are merely facilitators. This program helps stop students from being bullies and it prevents bullying before it starts.”
(Clinton Park teachers Regina Blackman, left, and Debbie Sigler)
Allen Croxall, president of the Tools for Life Corporation, said the program is not a separate class, but tools that can be incorporated into all lessons as teachers work with students.
“If there are students with aggressive behavior, this can help them change,” he said. “At that age, children may not know how to express what they’re really feeling. This gives teachers options on how they can help children talk about what they’re feeling.”
Some students come from difficult situations at home or just get off to a bad start to the day, he said.
“When children aren’t calm, they can’t hear you,” he said. “With this program, teachers are able to learn what children are dealing with issues and it also helps children with problem solving and respecting each other’s differences.”
Bell said everyone needs relationship-building skills, and Tools for Life is a great starting point.
“It helps teach them how to build relationships that can last a lifetime and learn how to be resilient,” she said. “These are lessons they can use at school, at home and in the community.”
Thanks to Tools for Life for this program and to all the faculty at Clinton Park for their hard work to make this program a success!
The End of Bullying Begins at Home
Bullying has reached epidemic proportions. It’s time to go after its root causes and stop it in its tracks. That’s why the web site, lifewithoutbullies.com, presents a practical starting point for families looking for strategies and solutions. The web site explains all about Tools for Life® HomeSTART.
The evidence is accumulating; good social skills may depend on the ability to decipher facial expressions, particularly expressions in the eye region (DeClerk and Bogart 2008).
As parent s and educators, we may think that most kids are aware and understand the body clues of others. This does not appear to be the case. Kids benefit from direct teachings of body clues and how to interpret them. And teaching does work. In one study, researchers gave typically-developing elementary school kids training in the identification and self-production of facial expression cues.
In Tools for Life®, we often assist children to identify how they are feeling by sharing how big or small that feeling is, or by using visuals to concretely demonstrate how those uncomfortable feelings grow. In the small groups that Early Identification Consultants facilitate within the primary grades of our schools in the Region of Waterloo, we have often used pictures of thermometers to draw in, often with the colour red, how big our feelings were when something happened. (more…)
By Linda Stearns
A young girl wrote a letter to one of my coworkers that we wanted to share. As Early Intervention consultants, we have the privilege to interact with many, many children and often they touch our lives and hearts too! Here is what she wrote…. (more…)
Tools for Life Blog
Tools for Life is pleased to announce publication of the 2017 Early Learning teaching manual offering emergent learning for Child Care, and inquiry-led, play-based Skills for Full Day Kindergarten. The FDK section of the teaching manual aligns with 2016 Ontario Ministry of Education guidelines regarding play-based learning. This FDK section was completed in collaboration with […]
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“If there could be anything that would best encompass the role of the Tools for Life program, it would be “Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.” We at Country Hills Public School not only feel that the Tools for Life program has given us strategies in dealing with difficult times, but the ability to teach and maintain the program, year after year.”
Country Hills Public School
“When I attended the Tools for Life workshop, I was amazed at how much my child knew, and how we can use the tools to deal with problems at home.”
“(Tools for Life) has helped our school efforts to create a climate and culture that is courteous, kind, fair and respectful to others.”
Inge Ford – W.T. Townshend School