How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner

How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner

Becoming a good learner is essential in the world we live in today. Things change fast, and you need to upgrade yourself constantly to stay relevant.

Being in the field of IT, I can really feel the pace of things. It seems like no week goes by without a new technology coming out. If I were satisfied with sticking only with what I learned years ago, my skills would soon be obsolete.

I believe such a situation happens, not just in IT, but also in other fields. That’s why it’s important that you constantly update your knowledge and refresh your skill set.

But how can we be effective at learning?

Based on my observations, there are some characteristics that effective learners have. You should aim to develop them in yourself. Here are four characteristics of effective learners:

1. They are curious

As I wrote in How to Educate Yourself Online, your curiosity is like the fuel that will determine how far you’ll go. The more curious you are, the further you will go.

Curiosity makes a big difference in the process of learning. If you are curious, you will enjoy learning. Learning will become an adventure. As a result, you will do more of it. Over time, the gap between those who have curiosity and those who don’t will become huge.

2. They are process-oriented

A while back, I read The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner. It’s a relatively short book, but it gives me a useful perspective on becoming an effective learner.

One thing the author emphasizes is the importance of focusing on the process instead of the product. To be a good learner, being process-oriented is essential. You should focus on the process of getting better instead of the end result.

For instance, in learning music, rather than worrying about whether you can play a piece, you should focus on improving the techniques that will get you there. Figure out where you lack and practice it. If you do this, the outcomes will take care of themselves.

There are some benefits of having this mindset:

  • You minimize disappointment and frustration.
    If you focus on the product, you will be disappointed when you don’t get what you want. But if you focus on the process, you won’t have such a negative feeling. Your goal is simply to improve yourself as much as you can.
  • It focuses your energy on what’s important.
    Mastering a skill requires a lot of energy. Having a process-oriented mindset allows you to focus your energy on what’s important (that is, improving your techniques). You don’t waste your energy worrying about something that’s beyond your control.
  • You have the patience to go through the process.
    If you focus on the product, you might not have the patience necessary to go through the process. You just want to get the final result. As a result, you might take shortcuts (with bad consequences) or simply give up.
    On the other hand, if you focus on the process, you will have the patience necessary. That will enable you to go through the process and eventually get the desired outcomes. Plus, you will enjoy the journey.

3. They apply what they’ve learned

To fully learn something, you need to apply what you have learned. That’s why I’m an advocate of having side projects.

Working on a project takes time and energy, so you don’t need to create a project for everything. Do it only for a few things that you want to learn deeper. My article entitled Learn New Skills With Project-Based Learning explains more about it.

4. They retain what they’ve learned

It’s easy to forget what we have learned. That’s why you need to think not only about how to acquire knowledge but also how to retain it. When you are losing your grip on certain knowledge, you should be able to “reinstall” it with relative ease.

Taking notes is a common approach that people take. But make sure that your notes are effective: they should be able to trigger your memory in the least amount of time.

In reading books, a good method to retain knowledge is to highlight the key points of a book. It makes it easy for you to “reinstall” the knowledge later on.

Having these four characteristics will help you become an effective learner. You will be able not only to adapt, but also to thrive in a changing world.

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions on becoming a good learner? Feel free to share them in the comments.

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Learning new skills has become easier than ever as there are a lot of ways to pick up new skills and polish existing ones. Despite the incredible, and

Learning new skills has become easier than ever as there are a lot of ways to pick up new skills and polish existing ones. Despite the incredible, and quick access to information like Google search and YouTube, etc. only a few people are taking advantage of the opportunity they have for self-directed learning.

For individuals who have been using smartphones, tablets, and computers just for entertainment purposes, it is the right time to realize them that their mobile device or computer could be a perfect tool for self-education or career advancement.

No doubt, independent learning or self-education is a journey that requires great commitment and attention, below we have listed some self-education habits you can assume right now to educate yourself on anything.

Prepare a Learning Environment

If you don’t have a classroom to learn properly and keep yourself as focused as possible, you can create your own learning space. You just need a dedicated and properly organized desk to get yourself ready for learning. Get a chair that is comfortable, a computer or a laptop, books, notebooks, and writing essentials. When you have a comfortable learning environment, as soon as you sit for learning, your mind will be prepared to learn things. If you are a student and want to learn a course lecture on your own, you must have a distraction-free study environment and schedule to learn properly.

Highlight Important Details and Information

As a self-learner, you should build a habit of highlighting everything important and relevant that you come across during the search. You can highlight useful information in many ways. Use highlighters to highlight content in the physical books. You can also take notes in a specialized note-taking journal. You can download a note-taking app on your smartphone or record your notes on a device like Evernote. As the human brain is unable to remember everything it comes across, that’s why be quick to highlight or note down whenever you find something important or useful. Recording all the highlighted information and details into writing or digital files is a great way to keep all the information in an organized manner so you can refer to whenever needed in the future.

Learn from Different Means

When you are learning on your own, you are free to learn from different learning mediums and materials around. You can read articles on the web, read books, watch videos, attend seminars, listen to podcasts, and join webinars to enhance your knowledge and skills. The Internet is the best way to gain quick access to different types of learning materials even by using your smartphone. So, don’t limit yourself to a particular learning medium and continue learning from different means and channels accessible.

How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner

Talk to Experts

Having a meaningful conversation with an expert in the field is the best way to pick up new skills. Find and connect with the people who are experts in the skills and topics you are interested in and interact with them often. One to one communication with inspiring people is a great way to gain knowledge and useful information. You can also find a mentor in the field who can guide you through the learning process to help you educate yourself on the things of your interest.

Don’t Assume Everything you Listen or Read is Authentic

When you find a relevant and informative source to learn from, you can never assume the things you read are 100% authentic. That is the reason, always try to gather information and learning materials from different sources because some of them may be in illogicality to the information you already have. An in-depth search is the best way to find authentic information and details on a given topic.

Join Online Communities of Learners

Living among brilliant minds is another best way to boost self-learning. You cannot study or learn well in isolation. So, spend some time on finding the right online communities of learners like Facebook groups, Reddit communities, and LinkedIn groups, etc. to connect with like-minded people. You should join the online communities full of creative minds and knowledgable people instead of groups full of irrelevant people.

Make Learning your Lifestyle

Learning never ends. When you gain more information and knowledge, you start understanding how stuff works. Don’t lose your ability to wonder and keep asking more questions to discover more interesting things around. Write interesting things and information down you come across throughout the day. Watch the most relevant and interesting videos on YouTube for a deep dive into the topics of your interests.

How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner

9 Of The Top Resources For Online Self-Education

We are so fortunate to have a wealth of information at our finger tips. There are so many online resources we can use to educate ourselves. Sometimes it does become overwhelming with all the options, but we should never feel overwhelmed by information. Depending on what you want to educate yourself on, you should find a ton of online resources on the subject. Traditional learning has taken a back step for individuals who want to take control of their time and what information they find beneficial to their lives.

So many people have decided to give up their 9-5 jobs in the hopes of making money from their passions. A lot of successful people have emerged and you can find teenagers starting and succeeding at business, without much of a formal qualification. If you are someone who want to self-educate yourself, we have the best resources to use as a start.

1. Khan Academy

Many students use Khan Academy to get them through school. This tool is effective for students going the traditional route and for those who are focus on educating themselves. There is a wealth of information and you can start with basic courses and move up to advanced. Khan Academy has made a name for themselves when it comes to online education. Now we just need for them to bring out an MLA editor or a free MLA formatter and we are good to go.

2. Saylor

I recommend this website for all self-learners because it provides free education to learners all over the world. If you are studying a subject on your own, you could probably do with some money in your pocket. They offer a vast selection of subjects and you could find information that might give you the same knowledge as someone with a Bachelor’s Degree.

3. Ted

This may not be a conventional learning resource, but you would benefit from using it. Life is about so much more than textbook learning and there are so many things being discovered by scientists, that you need a place to catch up on these issues. Technology, design and entertainment are the foundation of this website, but trust me, it offers so much more.

4. Eduscapes

It does not matter how young or old you are, there is always more to be learned. Eduscapes offer education for all age groups on various subjects. They include a lot of visuals in their training on these websites, which resonates with us humans.

5. Big Think

By deciding to study by yourself, already makes you a big thinker and this website might be just what you are looking for. With more than 12000 videos on various topics covered by experts in the industry, you will not be disappointed.

6. Coursera

You can learn to play an instrument or educate yourself on accounting formats. This website offers so much to learners and it is all free of charge. What more can one ask for? Most of the courses include video training, followed by a test that should be completed in a set amount of time. You will have a professor monitoring your progress, so you get the complete package. Did I mention all of this is free? Looking for free essay editing software? You could probably find it at Coursera.

7. Academic Earth

Sometimes you want to learn about subjects that are not offered in your country. The cool thing about this website is that they offer you courses from all over the globe. If you want to learn a new language, you probably find it on Academic Earth. The name kind of gives it away.

8. Open Culture

This might not be the more visually attractive site, but that does not take away from the fact that it consists of over 700 courses. That is a lot of courses if you think about it. Imagine all the things you could learn with that amount of information at your fingertips.

9. Wikiversity

Are you best when learning textbook style? Well then I have just the right resource for you. You can be a pre-schooler or a graduate looking for more information and you could probably find something of value on this site. Covering a wide variety of topics that could only add value to a self-learner’s life.

Conclusion

These resources are great if you want to learn as much as possible through your lifetime. There is no stopping you when you want to learn something. You can find so many more resources, but I thought I’ll stick with the best ones to start with. The internet is a great place for the self-learner and with new information being added daily, we’ll never run out. Stay up to date with developing issues in the world with these resources; learn a new skill, and get out of your comfort zone. Nothing is stopping you now.

Sometimes you may feel as if you have lost control over your life, your rights and your responsibilities. Regaining your sense of control by successfully advocating for yourself will give you back the hope and self-esteem you need to work toward recovery.

Following is an excerpt from WRAP Plus (Copeland, M., Dummerston, Vermont )

How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner1. Believe in Yourself
You are a unique and valuable person. You are worth the effort it takes to advocate for yourself and protect your rights. You can do it! You may need to work on raising your self-esteem to really believe in yourself and become your own best advocate.

2. Know Your Rights
You are entitled to equality under the law. Some of us who have had mental health challenges erroneously believe that we do not have the same rights as others. I did for a while. I allowed people I did not know well and did not trust to make decisions for me and take control of my life. I now have systems in place so if I am not able to make good decisions for myself, others of my choice will make them for me.

How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner3. Decide What You Want
Clarify for yourself exactly what you need. This will help you set your own goals and help you be clear to others about what it is that you want and need for yourself.

4. Get the Facts
When you advocate for yourself, you need to know what you are talking about or asking for. The internet is an excellent source of information. However, you will need to check its accuracy by looking at several different references to see if they agree. Check with people who have expertise in what you are considering. Ask others who have issues similar to yours. Check references in the library. Contact mental health agencies and organizations for information and support.

5. Planning Strategy
Using the information you have gathered, plan a strategy that you feel will work to get what you need and want for yourself. Think of several ways to address the problem. Ask supporters for suggestions. Get feedback on your ideas. Then choose to take action using the one that you feel has the most chance of being successful.

6. Gather Support
In advocating for what you need and want for yourself, it is helpful to have support from family members, friends and other people who have similar issues.

7. Target Efforts
Who is the person, persons, or organization you need to deal with to get action on this matter? Talk directly with the person who can best assist you. It may take a few phone calls to discover which organization or person can help, or who is in charge, but it is worth the effort. Keep trying until you find the right person. Maybe the right person is your spouse or another family member. Perhaps it is the head of the local housing agency, your doctor, a case manager, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, or a state legislator.

8. Express Yourself Clearly
When you are asking for what you need and want for yourself, be brief. Stick to the point. Don’t allow yourself to be diverted or to ramble on with unimportant details. State your concern and how you want things changed. If the other person tries to tell you reasons why you cannot achieve what it is you want for yourself, repeat again what it is you want and expect until they either give it to you, help you get it, or refer you to someone else who may be able to give you what you need. If you feel this may be difficult for you, you may want to role-play different scenarios with a supporter or a counselor.

9. Assert Yourself Clearly
Don’t lose your temper and lash out at the other person, their character or the organization. Speak out, asking for what you need and want and then listen. Respect the rights of others, but don’t let them “put you down” or “walk all over you.”

10. Be Firm and Persistent
Don’t give up! Keep after what you want. Always follow through on what you say. Dedicate yourself to getting whatever it is you need for yourself.

Learn More About Recovery and WRAP
How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner

This report and other recent studies show that online learning, distance learning, and self-learning in general, are not only more convenient, but, in fact, more effective than the classroom, for high school, college and adult learners. In the last decade, the Internet, the MP3 player, the iPhone, and other mobile devices,as well as social networking sites, language exchange communities, online learning systems, university courses online and more, have changed how we deal with knowledge. Independent programmer-entrepreneurs are constantly developing new learning applications. The language lab is already obsolete, can the college lecture hall be far behind? The walls of academia, and the costs of learning, are crumbling before our eyes and ears.

For those who are conditioned to think that learning only happens in a classroom, the world of self-learning can be a little daunting. How do we best take advantage these new opportunities.

1. Get interested

Make no mistake. Your interest in the subject is the essential driver of success. You can’t learn what you do not want to learn. Emotion is an important part of the learning process. If you are even moderately interested in a subject, give yourself a chance. The key is to get started. If you can create some pleasurable routines, you may find that the subject grows on you. “L’appetit vient en mangeant” (the appetite comes with eating) as they say in French.

2. Expect problems and you won’t be disappointed.

Don’t expect to understand things, much less remember them, the first time you study them. Trust that things will get clearer as your brain comes to grips with new information. It is like a jig-saw puzzle or a cross-word puzzle. As you start to put the pieces together, or string the words together, the full picture becomes clearer. The brain learns all the time, but on its own schedule. Learning does not take place according to a schedule laid down by a curriculum or teacher. Some things are easier to learn than others. Some things just take longer to click in. Keep at it, and you will gradually find that things that seem difficult at first, will become second nature with time.

3. Cover the same ground from different angles.

Your brain is struggling to form patterns to cope with new input from your learning activities. Sometimes, no matter how long you focus on one subject, your brain is not going to pick it up. If you are stuck, move on. Then cover the same general information from a different source, a different book, or a podcast, or an online lecture or a video. Try to become a grazing learner, roaming the countryside, rather than a feedlot learner, just standing there in one spot, munching on the same bale of hay. The broader your base, the easier it is to learn. Just as the “rich get richer”, the more you know, the more you can learn.

4. Anytime is learning time.

Take full advantage of the Internet, iTunes, and various mobile devices, not to mention good old-fashioned books and magazines. Learn during “dead time”. Listen in your car, on the train, or while jogging. Have your learning with you while waiting in the doctor’s office, or listen while checking out at the supermarket. Anytime is learning time. Remember, you are learning through exposure, not by nailing things down. It is more like moisture accumulation in a cloud, rather than building a brick wall.

5. Be a multimedia learner.

The more varied your learning content, and the more varied the ways in which you learn, the clearer the puzzle will become. Different learning activities suit different people, at different times of the day. Vary your activities in order to keep your interest level up. Even if listening and reading work best for you, treat yourself to the odd video lecture, or get-together with other learners. This will renew your batteries.

6. Join learning communities.

The “loneliness of the distance learner” is a thing of the past. Join a learning community on the web, where members share their knowledge and experience. Search for the communities that suit your interests and learning style. You will find encouragement, advice and stimulus from fellow learners, as well as from tutors, teachers and coaches. In these communities, you can measure your progress against your own goals, or compare your experience with that of other learners. You can even teach and help others, which is a great way to learn.

Never has it been easier nor more exciting to be a learner. Let constant learning be a major part of your life-style. The rewards will be constant, personally, socially, and professionally.

Steve Kaufmann is a former Canadian diplomat, who has had his own company in the international trade of forest products for over 20 years. Steve is the founder and CEO of LingQ.com an online language learning system and Web 2.0 community. Steve speaks eleven languages, having recently learned Russian at LingQ. Steve maintains a blog on language learning ,and has written a book on language learning called The Linguist, A Language Learning Odyssey.

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How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner

Free Book Preview: Unstoppable

How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner

There aren’t many natural born leaders. Most leaders take responsibility for training themselves to be effective. Whether you learn from the wisdom of others or get insights from personal experience, becoming a more effective leader is about what you do, not what know.

Here are five things you can do to train yourself to be a great leader:

1. Keep promises, period.
Never make promises you’re not sure you can keep. Nothing kills your credibility quicker than a breached promise or unfulfilled expectation.

Sometimes keeping promises can be challenging, if not downright painful. This commitment will develop discipline and integrity. Practice it with your kids as well as colleagues.

2. Dress to influence.
Don’t dress to impress, dress to influence. That means making sure your appearance is consistent with your personal and professional brand. Begin by asking yourself how a leader with your aspirations should appear to others.

And don’t limit appearance to just yourself. Apply it to your company. Butler Amusements, a Fairfield, Cal.-based carnival company, has always prided itself on having the cleanest trucks in the business and has built a brand around the slogan: “The Cleanest Show in the West.”

3. Treat your team as you expect them to treat customers.
Asking your team to be courteous to customers and being a jerk to them is incongruent and hypocritical. Being the leader doesn’t give you a free pass to indulge your base instincts. The way you treat people is a barometer to everyone on your team.

Robert Greenleaf coined the term “servant leadership” in the 1960’s. It isn’t about being servile, but about finding ways to support your employees so they can become successful. Periodically ask: “What can I do to help?”

4. Show your commitment to personal growth.
There are ultimately only two ways to grow your business: grow yourself and grow your team. As you and your team improve, so do service levels, operational efficiency and everything else.

Suncoast Coffee Service and Vending is a small company of twenty employees based in Tampa, Florida. The founders pay employees to read books that benefit both their personal and professional lives. Through the company’s reading program, called Making People Better, books are distributed to employees, along with a “read by” date. Employees have approximately one month to read the book and are given $50 after completing it. At the end of the month, employees meet to discuss the book.

5. Ask rather than wait for feedback.
Some leaders react to unsolicited feedback as criticism and miss an opportunity to learn. But waiting for your employees to become brave enough to offer you feedback is a risky proposition. Don’t ask employees what they like or dislike about you. You’ll get better information by asking: “In your opinion, what might I do to become a more effective leader?”

Listen for actionable behavior. If someone says you’d be more effective by communicating more clearly, ask for an example of when you haven’t, so you’ll understand what he or she means.

Which of these actions will you take first to train yourself to be a better leader?

This story highlights 6 self-management skills you will need for peak performance

How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner

If you want to operate at peak performance levels to achieve more in life, then it is important to develop critical self-management skills. These are the skills needed to manage personal abilities to be used in various areas of life. Whether you want to excel in business or your personal life, your success depends upon your ability to manage your own performance.

How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner

Here are the top 6 self-management skills for peak performance and optimize personal growth:

One of the most important self-management skills for peak performance is the ability and willingness to hold yourself accountable. If you say that you are going to do something, then make sure you do it. Take ownership of your goals and the work needed to achieve them. If you know that a task or activity requires a certain level of effort, then it is your responsibility to make it happen.

If you fail to act or the performance is not sufficient, then be honest with yourself and determine what changes or adjustments are needed to do better next time. Be true to your word.

Have you ever logged onto social media to quickly respond to a message but an hour later realized you were still scrolling through your newsfeed or had fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole? If this becomes a habit, then those minutes and hours will add up and turn into days and weeks lost.

We live in a world filled with shiny objects and noisy distractions. Everywhere we turn, someone is trying to get and keep our precious attention. That’s why an important self-management skill you should develop is time management.

Some people are motivated by external drivers such as money, praise, or purchasing material items. Others are motivated by internal drivers such as feelings of satisfaction, fulfillment, or personal achievement. It is also possible to be motivated by both depending on the situation.

When working towards a goal, here are three questions to ask that will help maintain motivation:

  • Why is achieving this goal important to me?
  • By achieving this, what will it do for me?
  • By achieving this, what will it get me or allow me to do?

If you find yourself losing motivation, then ask yourself these questions. You may need to go through these questions a few times to get to the deeper and more meaningful reasons that will serve as primary motivators.

Focus on your goal and continue to drive forward. You might not be successful on the first attempt, and that is okay. Get up and try it again. Keep going until you succeed.

One of the most important self-management skills is being adaptive to change. For millions of people around the world, 2020 provided a master class in learning to deal with change that nobody signed up for but were given front row seats to anyway. Change is a natural part of life, and we must be able and willing to adjust course when necessary.

Playing at higher levels typically means having to deal with increased levels of stress. It naturally comes with the territory. Take a proactive approach to deal with stress by utilizing coping skills and having healthy outlets to channel negative energy. Effective coping skills could include activities like listening to music, going for a walk, reading for pleasure, or exercising.

How do your mood and behavior change when you are experiencing stress? Learn to recognize the signs and utilize the coping skills that work best for you. It might also be a good idea to incorporate activities like yoga or meditation into your weekly routine.

Invest in your future by dedicating 30 minutes every day to learning something new. Advances in technology have allowed people to learn from world-class leaders and mentors at any time of the day in a manner that is most convenient to them.

Download your favorite self-help books to read on the go or listen to the audio version in your car or while working out. Watch old TED Talks or attend webinars hosted by experts halfway around the world. Learning has never been easier.

How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learner

9 Of The Top Resources For Online Self-Education

We are so fortunate to have a wealth of information at our finger tips. There are so many online resources we can use to educate ourselves. Sometimes it does become overwhelming with all the options, but we should never feel overwhelmed by information. Depending on what you want to educate yourself on, you should find a ton of online resources on the subject. Traditional learning has taken a back step for individuals who want to take control of their time and what information they find beneficial to their lives.

So many people have decided to give up their 9-5 jobs in the hopes of making money from their passions. A lot of successful people have emerged and you can find teenagers starting and succeeding at business, without much of a formal qualification. If you are someone who want to self-educate yourself, we have the best resources to use as a start.

1. Khan Academy

Many students use Khan Academy to get them through school. This tool is effective for students going the traditional route and for those who are focus on educating themselves. There is a wealth of information and you can start with basic courses and move up to advanced. Khan Academy has made a name for themselves when it comes to online education. Now we just need for them to bring out an MLA editor or a free MLA formatter and we are good to go.

2. Saylor

I recommend this website for all self-learners because it provides free education to learners all over the world. If you are studying a subject on your own, you could probably do with some money in your pocket. They offer a vast selection of subjects and you could find information that might give you the same knowledge as someone with a Bachelor’s Degree.

3. Ted

This may not be a conventional learning resource, but you would benefit from using it. Life is about so much more than textbook learning and there are so many things being discovered by scientists, that you need a place to catch up on these issues. Technology, design and entertainment are the foundation of this website, but trust me, it offers so much more.

4. Eduscapes

It does not matter how young or old you are, there is always more to be learned. Eduscapes offer education for all age groups on various subjects. They include a lot of visuals in their training on these websites, which resonates with us humans.

5. Big Think

By deciding to study by yourself, already makes you a big thinker and this website might be just what you are looking for. With more than 12000 videos on various topics covered by experts in the industry, you will not be disappointed.

6. Coursera

You can learn to play an instrument or educate yourself on accounting formats. This website offers so much to learners and it is all free of charge. What more can one ask for? Most of the courses include video training, followed by a test that should be completed in a set amount of time. You will have a professor monitoring your progress, so you get the complete package. Did I mention all of this is free? Looking for free essay editing software? You could probably find it at Coursera.

7. Academic Earth

Sometimes you want to learn about subjects that are not offered in your country. The cool thing about this website is that they offer you courses from all over the globe. If you want to learn a new language, you probably find it on Academic Earth. The name kind of gives it away.

8. Open Culture

This might not be the more visually attractive site, but that does not take away from the fact that it consists of over 700 courses. That is a lot of courses if you think about it. Imagine all the things you could learn with that amount of information at your fingertips.

9. Wikiversity

Are you best when learning textbook style? Well then I have just the right resource for you. You can be a pre-schooler or a graduate looking for more information and you could probably find something of value on this site. Covering a wide variety of topics that could only add value to a self-learner’s life.

Conclusion

These resources are great if you want to learn as much as possible through your lifetime. There is no stopping you when you want to learn something. You can find so many more resources, but I thought I’ll stick with the best ones to start with. The internet is a great place for the self-learner and with new information being added daily, we’ll never run out. Stay up to date with developing issues in the world with these resources; learn a new skill, and get out of your comfort zone. Nothing is stopping you now.

In Tools of the Mind, learning how to learn is as important as learning academic content and skills

Tools in a Nutshell

Tools of the Mind is a research-based early childhood model combining teacher professional development with a comprehensive innovative curriculum that helps young children to develop the cognitive, social-emotional, self-regulatory, and foundational academic skills they need to succeed in school and beyond.

Tools of the Mind is designed to support the development of all young children. Tools currently serves over 30,000 children in PreK and K classrooms that run the gamut from small rural school districts, to large urban ones including Washington DC; and from elite private schools, to publicly funded programs serving children from low-resource families.

The Approach

Tools of the Mind gives teachers the tools to ensure every child becomes a successful learner, developing the underlying cognitive, social and emotional skills needed to reach his or her highest potential. Melding Vygotskian theory with cutting edge neuroscience research, Tools is a unique approach to teaching and learning with research demonstrated outcomes for children and teachers.

Tools of the Mind is based upon a specific set of beliefs about how children develop and learn. Tools instructional interactions are designed to help teachers be more effective in identifying teachable moments, assessing children’s development and differentiating instruction. Tools teachers focus on helping children become intentional and reflective learners, creating a classroom in which instruction in literacy, mathematics and science reflect children’s learning capacity, rather than age-level expectations.

Tools combines a comprehensive early childhood curriculum with an innovative approach to teacher professional development to effectively transform early childhood teaching and learning, and improve child outcomes.

The Approach in Action: PreK

In a Tools PreK classroom, a play theme unifies the room. The year begins with adaptable play themes close to children’s lives, and over the course of the year, as children’s levels of make-believe play, self-regulation and executive functions develop, the play themes develop as well. In a classroom in Maine, a lobster pound was a favorite center; in another classroom in Washington D.C., a convenience store with a ‘Redbox’ and an ATM machine was a favorite center. Teachers construct themes with children. Children help make the props and signs, and teachers read books to build children’s knowledge of what people do and say in different themed settings. Intentional make-believe play is the heart of a Tools of the Mind PreK classroom, but there’s lots more going on in a day! Children engage in activities designed to support the development of literacy, math and science skills at the same time as self-regulation and executive functions skills are developed. Most learning takes place in small groups and partnered activities, engaging children in interacting with one another to learn, build social relationships and create a positive classroom culture.

How to educate yourself and be an effective self-learnerA preschooler checking her Play Plan.

Play Planning is a good example of the Tools approach to designing activities to develop foundational executive functions and self-regulation skills, at the same time as core academic skills are developed. Tools activities, like Play Planning, are multi-level, designed to challenge and support each child at his own level. Children who are developing typically and those who have special needs are engaged in the same activity, performing at a challenge level appropriate to each child.

In Play Planning, children plan their play before playing in centers. A Play Plan typically describes the role and actions a child will engage in during the first few minutes of intentional make-believe play. This initial plan helps children act purposefully–-the first step to becoming self-regulated learners.

Play Plans also support children’s literacy development. As children plan their play, they draw a picture of their plan that helps them remember what they are going to do. For Vygotskians, drawing is an important precursor to writing. These drawings gradually become more representational as children use their pictures to review previous plans, and discuss their plans with other children. As children learn more about literacy, they begin to represent their intentions using the Tools approach to writing: Scaffolded Writing.