Committee for Children Blog

A Change for the Better: Developing the Second Step Early Learning Program

We asked one of the advisory board members what it was like helping develop the 
Second Step Early Learning program. Today’s blog is from advisory board member Karen Virta, Lead Teacher of the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program at the Everett Community College Early Learning Center.

Karen VirtaWhen Committee for Children approached me to join their early learning advisory group, I didn’t hesitate to say “Yes!”  I had been using the Second Step program for over a decade, and although I loved it, I had some definite ideas on how the program could be more developmentally appropriate for preschool children.  The older version consisted of a one-day, 20- to 30-minute lesson that was difficult for young children to sit and focus their attention through.  I also felt that doing the lesson only once a week was not sufficient for children to fully learn the program concepts and skills.

As the advisory group met to discuss the program, it was nice to hear that others had similar experiences and thoughts that I had.  Committee for Children, in response to prior teacher feedback, had already developed an initial format that I knew would align better with the needs of preschool children.  The new elements that I am most excited about are the Skills for Learning lessons, Brain Builders, and small-group activities.  These program improvements, presented in short, daily lessons, offer more opportunities for children to practice and develop key skills they will need to be successful in school and life.

For the past year I have been fortunate to pilot the new Second Step early learning program, provide my feedback to Committee for Children, and collaborate with other early childhood specialists.  Like anything new, it was challenging at first to incorporate the program into my daily classroom routine, but with practice it became easier and I began to see the results.  I am positive that in the years to come I will be able to use the new Second Step program confidently and effectively, and I know that other teachers will be as equally happy with the improvements.

I look forward to sharing with you more in the days to come about my experience helping develop and pilot Second Step: Social-Emotional Skills for Early Learning.