Introduction to Second Step
We want your child to be successful in school and that means supporting and encouraging their whole development. While excelling in academic classes is important, students also need skills to take on learning challenges, make good decisions, handle strong emotions, and get along with others. Over the last few weeks, we have begun Second Step® Middle School, a research-based social-emotional learning program designed to improve students’ social-emotional skills, such as emotion management, impulse control, problem solving, and empathy. Second Step skills and concepts are designed to help students both in and out of school. These include:
- Mindsets and Goals: Students learn how to develop a growth mindset and apply research based goal-setting strategies to their social and academic lives.
- Recognizing Bullying and Harassment: Students learn how to recognize bullying and harassment, stand up safely to bullying, and respond appropriately to harassment.
- Thoughts, Emotions, and Decisions: Students learn how to recognize strong emotions and unhelpful thoughts, and apply strategies to manage their emotions and reduce stress.
- Managing Relationships and Social Conflict: Students learn strategies for developing and maintaining healthy relationships, perspective-taking, and dealing with conflict.
Weekly family communications for lessons 1–7
Lesson 1: Welcome!
Summary: This week’s lesson will show your child how the Second Step Middle School Program can help them navigate physical, social, and emotional changes in adolescence.
Question: Have a conversation with your child about what you felt was the most difficult part of being an adolescent. Ask your child about any changes they’ve noticed in friends and what they think about these changes.
Lesson 2: Who Am I? My Identity
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will learn that their identity is complex. They will create an identity map that names unique and important aspects of their identity.
Question: Share your response to the following questions with your child. Then have your child and any additional family members share their responses.
- Who am I?
- What are the most important aspects of my identity and why?
Lesson 3: My Interests and Strengths
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will reflect on how they have used their personal strengths to develop an interest, skill, or ability.
Question: Tell your child about a skill, interest, or ability you have and how you developed it. Discuss the skills, attitudes, or people who helped you along the way.
Lesson 4: Harnessing My Strengths
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will choose something they’d like to get better at and think about how they could apply their unique strengths to do that.
Question: Help your child make a list of strengths they have. Ask your child about how they could use these to get better at a new skill.
Lesson 5: Pursuing My Interests
Summary: In this week's lesson, your child will identify and respond to positive and negative influences that may affect them while pursuing a goal.
Question: Tell your child about something positive or negative that influenced you as you were working toward a goal. For example, a friend who helped you find a job or learn a new skill. Ask your child about positive and negative factors that may influence them.
Lesson 6: My Future Self
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will imagine who they want to be in the future.
Question: Ask your child what they want their life to look like in the future. What skills or abilities do they want to have? What qualities or values do they want to develop?
Lesson 7: My Path Forward
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will envision a path to become their best self by using strengths and skills they already have.
Question: Ask your child what skills, interests, or abilities they want to develop and how you can help.
Weekly family communications for lessons 8–13
Lesson 8: Understanding Bullying
Summary: This week’s lesson will help your child examine common beliefs about bullying and harassment. They will begin to gain a perspective on how their opinions compare to those of others.
Question: Ask your child what they think enables bullying and harassment. Encourage a conversation about why bullying and harassment still happens.
Lesson 9: Social Factors that Contribute to Bullying
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will consider other people’s attitudes and beliefs about bullying and harassment, as well as their own.
Question: Share your thoughts and feelings around bullying and harassment with your child. Find out where you and your child agree and disagree and have a respectful discussion.
Lesson 10: Environmental Factors That Contribute to Bullying
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will identify environmental factors (the physical space and rules of an area) that contribute to bullying and harassment, and explore how they contribute to bullying and harassment in their school.
Question: Ask your child what environmental factors are. Share your observations about environmental factors that you’ve witnessed in the world outside of school.
Lesson 11: Speak Up and Start a Movement
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will explore how two strategies, speaking up and starting a movement, can disrupt the factors that enable bullying and harassment.
Question: Ask your child about these strategies and how they think they can help eliminate bullying and harassment in their school. Expand your discussion to include areas outside of school.
Lesson 12: Be Inclusive and Change Policies
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will explore two more strategies—making school more inclusive and requesting policy changes—to disrupt bullying and harassment.
Question: Continue your discussion from last week with this week’s strategies. Ask your child to share their ideas about what they could do to disrupt bullying and harassment.
Lesson 13: Stand Up for Change!
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will develop a plan for challenging the factors they see around them that can enable bullying and harassment.
Question: Ask your child to tell you their plan and discuss how you can support them in enacting it.
Weekly family communications for lessons 14–19.
Lesson 14: Understanding Stress and Anxiety
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will examine how they feel, what thoughts they have, and how their bodies respond when they’re stressed.
Question: Ask your child what they do or feel when they’re stressed. These signs will help you notice when your child is stressed, so you can ask them how to help or support them.
Lesson 15: Where Does Stress Come From?
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will learn where stress comes from, identify stressors in their life, and examine which stressors they can control.
Question: Ask your child if they have any stressors they can’t control. Discuss what they do have control over.
Lesson 16: Can Stress Help You Grow?
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will learn to reframe stressful situations as opportunities for growth.
Question: Tell your child about a stressful situation you were recently in and how you were able to use that stress to improve yourself or the situation. Ask your child if they have any stressors in their life that they need help with.
Lesson 17: Strategies for Managing Stress
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will learn some strategies for managing stress. These strategies include: slow breathing, reframing unhelpful thoughts, positive self-talk, and progressive muscle relaxation
Question: Ask your child what makes them feel stressed and how they cope with that stress. Share your own stressors and helpful ways you manage stress.
Lesson 18: Changing Strategies and Getting Help
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will analyze stressful situations and decide if they need to change their strategy or get outside help to manage their stress.
Question: Tell your child about a time you needed help managing stress.
Lesson 19: My Stress-Management Plan
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will complete their own stress-management plan. It will include their own signs of stress, the situations that contribute to their stress, strategies they can use to relieve stress, and people they can reach out to for help or support.
Question: Ask to see your child’s stress-management plan. Talk about the strategies they’ve identified and offer your support if you see them displaying any signs of stress.
Weekly family communications for lessons 20–27
Lesson 20: My Values
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will explore their values and identify how behaviors that are important to them show them what they value.
Question: Ask your child about some of the values they have identified and why. Share a few of your own values and how you live out those values in your day-to-day life.
Lesson 21: Values and Relationships
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will draw connections between their values and the healthy relationships in their life.
Question: Ask your child about how one of their values shows up in a healthy relationship they have. This could be a friendship, a sibling or other familial relationship, or even a professional relationship with a teacher or coach.
Lesson 22: Recognizing Others' Perspectives
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will practice viewing conflicts from multiple perspectives to keep conflicts from escalating.
Question: Tell your child about a time when your view of a conflict changed because you were able to see it from another person’s perspective. Ask your child if they have changed their view of a conflict lately.
Lesson 23: Finding the Best Solution
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will learn to find solutions to a conflict that everyone can agree on.
Question: Ask your child about a conflict they recently had where they got something they wanted after it was resolved. Share a similar situation of your own.
Lesson 24: Making Things Right
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will learn ways to make amends after a conflict and restore a relationship they may have harmed.
Question: Tell your child about a time you had to make amends with someone. What did you do to repair the harm?
Lesson 25: Unhealthy Relationships
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will identify signs of an unhealthy relationship.
Question: Ask your child who they would go to for advice and support if they found themselves in a relationship that was unhealthy. Share why one of your close friends or family members is someone you turn to for advice and support.
Lesson 26: Guide to Healthy Relationships
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will create a guide to healthy relationships to inform, encourage, and inspire their peers.
Question: Ask to see your child’s project. If they don’t have it, have them describe it. Ask them what the most important thing they learned about healthy relationships is.
Lesson 27: High School Challenges
Summary: In this week’s lesson, your child will think ahead to some of the challenges they might face when starting high school and identify people they can go to for help.
Question: Ask your child about something that makes them nervous about starting high school. Share one thing you were nervous about when you first started high school, but that got better over time.