Elementary school is a time to pave the foundation for future learning. At Knowles Elementary School, students take part in “Second Step,” a curriculum that expands learning to include social and emotional awareness.

The Second Step Program is designed to teach children how to understand and manage their emotions, control their reactions, be aware of others’ feelings, and have the skills to problem-solve and make responsible decisions. The program’s curriculum differs for each grade level and includes weekly lessons that utilize games, videos, songs and other activities. Each week, students learn a new skill. Lara Labbe-Maginel, principal at Knowles Elementary School, said the school has seen an improvement in communication and behavior since starting the program.

“We’ve seen a fewer number of students coming to the office,” Labbe-Maginel said. “When kids to come to the office, they’re better able to articulate how they’re feeling, so we’re better able to help coach them and get them back to a place where they’re capable of learning.”

Labbe-Maginel said although there are other programs similar to Second Step available, the ease of use for teachers, the grade-level specific curriculum and the online resources make it the best choice for everyone involved.

“I think what this is doing is just our explicit teaching of those skills that help us in life,” Labbe-Maginel said, “like how to read ourselves and manage ourselves, but also how to support others who are facing challenge, and to help solve challenges when we don’t agree.”