“Stop, name your feelings, calm down!” sing the second graders, as they dance to a tune that was designed to teach a valuable lesson while having fun. This is one of many songs in the Second Step curriculum, as students in grades TK-5, learn about the skills for learning, empathy, emotion management, and problem solving through musical lyrics.
Three years ago a review of social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum was conducted by a team of teachers and administrators using the CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) Guide. The PUSD School Board approved Second Step as the tri-school social emotional curriculum. Having a school-wide curriculum in place provides all staff with a common language for how to talk with students about various aspects of social emotional learning, including how to face challenges. Whether it is two students in the classroom having trouble working as table partners or on the playground having a conflict sharing equipment or playing a game, children need tools to manage their feelings.
Other strategies students learn to calm down are counting down, belly breathing, and self talk. Students also learn how to identify problems and solve them using the four steps:
- State the problem without blaming anyone
- Generate safe and respectful solutions
- Identify consequences of potential solutions
- Select an appropriate solution
Certificated and classified staff model showing empathy, managing emotions, and solving problems on a daily basis. Parents are encouraged to ask their children about their Second Step lessons and find ways to integrate some of this in-school language at home.