Committee for Children Blog

The Second Step Program, Now with Skills for Learning

Today’s blog was written by senior program developer Bridgid Normand.

It’s done! We at Committee for Children are thrilled to announce a new edition of our Second Step elementary school program for K–5. After almost three years of continuous work investigating new research, piloting in schools, shooting videos, taking photographs, and refining songs—we can take a collective belly breath!  

Going into the revision we had a goal to improve the program’s effect on students’ success in school. We immersed ourselves in new research on academic success and brain development. We discovered that there are specific skills that help students manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (known as self-regulation skills) and therefore directly support their academic success and social and emotional competence. We have integrated these skills into the program with new lessons in all grades and with specific Brain Builder games in Kindergarten–Grade 3.

Skills for Learning

Four new Skills for Learning are explicitly taught and practiced in a brand-new unit in Grades K–3. These skills are also integrated into the Empathy unit in Grades 4 and 5.

These Skills for Learning are the following key skills that help students manage their learning in the classroom:

Listening: Students learn what their ears, eyes, bodies, and brains are doing when they listen. They practice a specific way of listening in every lesson.

Focusing attention: Students learn what it means to really focus and sustain attention. In kindergarten and first grade, students learn a technique that helps them understand and experience focusing attention in a concrete way.

Using self-talk: Students learn to use self-talk to stay on task, ignore distractions, and remember and follow directions.

Being assertive: Students learn and practice asking assertively for help with their learning. This is particularly important for students from lower-income families, English-language learners, or those who are struggling academically. These students will often not speak up when they are stuck.

Our pilot teachers and counselors were very excited about the Skills for Learning. They quickly observed an improvement in students’ self-regulation skills and noticed an increase in their teaching time.

Rachel Carrasco, a school counselor at South Shore K–8 School in Seattle had this to say: “The Skills For Learning—and the teachers have said it too—are just, they’re essential…it hasn’t taken nearly the amount of work it took last year, to get the group going and keep everyone on task.”

We are excited, too, as we anticipate more students experiencing success at school as a result of this new edition! We will tell you more about the Brain Builder games in next week’s blog.