By the HELP Committee and Havre Public Schools
Second Step is a school-based violence-prevention curriculum that incorporates videos, step-by-step instruction, and teacher and parent training programs. It has been used by the Havre public school system in grades K-5 since 1992.
The Second Step curriculum has a section that deals with the middle school years that is not being used by Havre schools. With limited time in the school day, the curriculum is being presented to a class of students on a rotating basis for about one hour every six weeks. In January, the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line will begin instruction in the Second Step program after school on a weekly basis to support violence prevention in our community and schools and to enhance our children's skills in anger management.
The following information is a brief overview of the program provided by the Committee for Children organization.
The target population of this program is children ages 4-14 (preschool-grade 8), teachers and other school personnel, parents, and caretakers in a school or other community setting. Second Step is a violence-prevention curriculum designed to reduce impulsive and aggressive behavior in children by increasing their social competency skills.
The program is composed of four grade-specific curricula: preschool/kindergarten, grades 1-3, grades 4-5, and grades 6-8. The curricula are designed for teachers and other youth-service providers to present in a classroom or other group setting. A parent education component, "A Family Guide to Second Step," for preschool through grade 5 also is available.
Second Step teaches skills in empathy, impulse control, problem solving, appropriate social behavior, and anger management. For example, in the unit on empathy, students learn to identify and predict the feelings of others and to provide an appropriate emotional response. In the impulse-control unit, students learn problem-solving and communication skills, with a focus on how to handle and solve interpersonal conflict. In the anger-management unit, students learn techniques for reducing stress and channeling angry feelings into constructive problem solving. The parent education program focuses on teaching these same skills to parents, as applied to parenting situations.
The Pre/K to grade 5 kits contain photo lessons, complete with discussion guide, teacher notes, activities and a teacher's guide, which offers a description of each teaching unit, background information, suggestions and resources for handling difficult classroom situations, homework, parent activity sheets, and take-home letters. In addition, the Pre/K kit includes puppets, sing-along tapes and posters. Grades 1-5 kits include classroom posters and video lessons that accompany each of the units to serve as a model for teachers and students. The grades 6-8 curriculum includes overhead transparencies and "Check It Out," a video focusing on specific behavioral skills. All curricula are self-contained and easy to implement. The "Family Guide to Second Step" contains videos and a facilitator's guide for a six-session parent education format.
Many of our children in the Havre area have been through these classes since 1992. The suggestions and methods offered by Second Step to control anger and prevent violence do work if implemented. Parents and caretakers need to be familiar with these techniques in order to remind and support our children in using them.
What to do when you are angry:
1. Ask yourself: How does my body feel?
2. Try to calm down by: taking three deep breaths, counting backward slowly, thinking calming thoughts, talking to yourself (tell yourself to calm down).
3. Think out loud to solve the problem (use the problem-solving steps).
4. Think about it later.
How to solve problems:
1. What is the problem?
2. What are some solutions?
3. For each solution, ask yourself: Is it safe? How might people feel about it? Is it fair? Will it work?
4. Choose a solution and use it.
5. Is it working? If not, what can I do now?
If we can remind our children to use these steps, we can improve their anger-management and social-competency skills.
To learn more about the Second Step program, contact Lin at the HELP Committee and Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line at 265-6206.