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Age From: 


Age To: 


Delivered To: 

  • Children/Students


  • Component 2 : Social and emotional learning for students


  • Social and emotional skills

Special Student Group: 

  • Culturally/Linguistically diverse
  • Rural setting


Target group:

Curriculum materials are provided for children ages 4–13 and their parents or carers. There is also online training for educators.


Designed for, or demonstrated applicability to, special groups:

The Second Step program has been translated and culturally adapted for use in a wide range of countries and with children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.


The Second Step K–5 program is a universal, classroom-based program designed to increase students’ school success, improve peer relationships, and decrease problem behaviors by promoting social-emotional competence and self-regulation. It teaches skills that strengthen students’ ability to learn, have empathy, manage their emotions and behaviors and solve problems.


The Second Step program for grades 6–8 (ages 11–14) contains the same fundamental social-emotional competence promotion content as the K–5 program, but it focuses less on the basic skills needed to pay attention and learn and instead is designed to prevent a range of problem behaviors that are particularly salient in adolescence. The middle school program targets risk factors such as peer rejection, impulsiveness and aggressive behavior that put students at risk for involvement in harmful behaviors such as delinquency, violence and substance abuse. Protective factors are also addressed—including social-emotional competence, self-regulation skills and school connectedness—that reduce the risk of problem behavior and promote school success. In addition, the middle school lessons contain specific content focused on substance abuse and bullying. Equipping students with Second Step skills creates a safer, more respectful learning environment that promotes school success for all.



The program keeps students at all grade levels engaged and participating actively through story-driven content, group discussion, skill practice, partner and group work, and hands-on activities. Additional learning strategies include Brain Builder games designed to increase executive function skills (Early Learning–Grade 3) original songs (Early Learning–Grade 5) puppets (Early Learning, Grades K and 1), video vignettes (Grades 1–8), video interviews with real teens (Grades 6–8) and visual aids and posters (all grades).


Second Step Early Learning Program

  • Unit I: Skills for Learning lays the groundwork for Second Step lessons and builds foundational skills necessary for successful learning. To be successful in school, students must be able to regulate their emotions, thoughts and behaviors. This unit focuses on four core skills for learning: focusing attention, listening, using self-talk and being assertive.
  • Unit II: Empathy provides children with skills to increase their ability to identify their own and others’ feelings, understand the complexity of feelings, take others’ perspectives and learn ways to respond empathically.
  • Unit III: Emotion Management focuses on teaching children to recognize when they are having strong feelings and use strategies for calming themselves down.
  • Unit IV: Problem Solving introduces a simple problem-solving process children can use with themselves or in situations with others. Children also gain exposure to the more advanced problem-solving strategies. Specific prosocial behaviors and friendship skills are also addressed.
  • Unit V: Transitioning to Kindergarten focuses on reviewing the skills and concepts children have learned in the program and helping them understand that these skills will help them in Kindergarten.


Second Step: Skills for Social and Academic Success Kindergarten–Grade-5 (Note that Units I and II are combined for the Grade 4 and Grade 5 programs.)

  • Unit I: Skills for Learning lays the groundwork for Second Step lessons and builds foundational skills necessary for successful learning. To be successful in school, students must be able to regulate their emotions, thoughts and behaviors. This unit focuses on four core skills for learning: focusing attention, listening, using self-talk and being assertive.
  • Unit II: Empathy Training provides students with skills to increase their ability to identify feelings in themselves and other people, take others’ perspectives and respond empathically to those around them. Empathy provides the motivation and the means for managing anger and solving problems so others are not hurt by impulsive actions.
  • Unit III: Emotion Management helps develop students’ ability to identify and manage their own strong feelings. Teaching students to recognize strong feelings and use calming-down steps to stay in control are effective ways to increase coping ability and reduce aggression and other problem behaviors.
  • Unit IV: Problem Solving focuses on developing students’ ability to solve problems in safe and respectful ways rather than doing the first thing that comes to mind. Students learn to use the four Second Step Problem-Solving Steps: say (identify) the problem, think of solutions, explore the consequences and pick the best solution.


Second Step: Student Success Through Prevention: Grades 6–8 (11–14 years)

The following themes are addressed in the lessons:

  • Empathy and communication. Lessons on this theme focus on helping students understand, recognize, and respond to another person’s feelings. Students use these skills to learn and practice effective, respectful communication. Students also work together to learn how to listen and analyze situations in order to understand the perspectives of different people in a conflict or disagreement.
  • Bullying prevention. Lessons on this theme focus on increasing students’ awareness of the range of behaviors that make up bullying, such as gossip, social exclusion, sexual harassment and cyber bullying. They also gain an understanding of their responsibilities as bystanders by learning the ways that bystanders can be “part of the solution” to bullying. Lessons in this theme also include a focus on changing peer group attitudes, behaviors and norms about bullying.
  • Emotion management and coping skills. Lessons on this theme teach students proactive strategies—such as deep, centered breathing and positive self-talk—to prevent strong feelings from escalating into negative behavior. Grade 7 Lessons emphasize coping skills.
  • Problem solving, decision making, and goal setting. Lessons on this theme at all grades teach the Action Steps. In sixth grade, they are taught as steps for solving interpersonal and other problems. In seventh grade, the Action Steps are taught as tools for decision-making. In eighth grade, students use the Action Steps to improve their goal-setting abilities. In all three grades, students’ ability to effectively carry out the cognitive process involved in the Action Steps requires using emotion-management skills learned in earlier lessons, especially for stressful situations.
  • Substance abuse prevention. Lessons on this theme focus on providing students with accurate information about the negative health consequences of using alcohol and other drugs. They also focus on and building on the social and personal skills addressed in previous lessons, including the skills to recognize and resist problematic choices. Lessons also raise questions about negative social consequences, have students consider how their use of alcohol and other substances might potentially affect family members and other important people in their lives and encourage students to make a commitment not to use. Lessons are also designed to correct misperceptions and reinforce the attitudes that most students hold about peer substance abuse.

Program Structure / Methods of Delivery: 

Each grade level of the Second Step program comes in two parts. One part is the actual kit or binder, and one part is online. The program as a whole is designed to be developmental and sequential. Skills are built on in a developmentally appropriate way at the next grade level. However each grade level reviews the core skills, so each can also stand alone. Interactive homework assignments designed to be done with an adult at home provide an engaging way for family members to learn about program skills.


Second Step Early Learning Program. This program consists of 28 Weekly Themes (one per week). Each theme is presented on a large photo card that includes a short scripted activity for each day of the week. Day One is a puppet script; Day Two is a story with short discussion; Day Three and Day Four are skill-practice activities (one of which is done in a small group), and Day Five is reading a recommended book relating to the theme.


Second Step: Skills for Social and Academic Success. (K–Grade 5) This program consists of 25 lessons at the kindergarten level and 22 at each other grade level. Individual lessons are scripted for ease-of-use. Each lesson is based on a story, and each story demonstrates an important self-regulation or social-emotional skill. This story format makes it easier for children to understand complex skills and concepts. Each lesson also includes a review of the previous lesson, a warm-up activity, a skill practice, and a wrap-up. Short five- to seven-minute daily practice activities are provided for the days of the week after the lesson has been taught.


Second Step: Student Success Through Prevention. (Grades 6–8) This program consists of 15 lessons at Grade 6 and 13 lessons each at Grades 7 and 8. Lessons are scripted and designed to minimize preparation time and maximize learning. Each lesson is taught in tandem with an interactive DVD. Teacher resources include an online training, online teaching resources and a Teaching the Program DVD.


Staff professional learning (PL):
Prior training in the Second Step program is not compulsory.

The website includes online training for teachers and counselors and implementation materials. Other resources expand on the information in the kit and include specific instructions for teaching lessons and reinforcing the program skills and concepts. Downloadable PDFs of program materials are also available. Video examples and interviews with teachers and counselors help schools maximize the effectiveness of the program.


Individual grade - year levels range from $385.00 AUS to $425.00 which includes GST.

For inquires or to place an order email

Program Specific Audience: 


Structured Sessions: 


Student Assessment Measures: 


Professional Learning: 

  • Professional Learning Available

Professional Learning Compulsory: 


Formal Parent/Carer Component Provided: 

Evidence of Effectiveness

Evidence of Effectiveness Rating: 


Evidence of Effectiveness Description: 

Committee for Children is currently conducting an RCT on the 2011 edition of the K–5 Second Step program that will result in outcome data for the program. Until then, there is no available evaluation of this version (fourth edition) of the K–5 program that met the inclusion criteria. Please note, though, that the previous edition of the program (third edition) met the criteria for a full Harvey ball, where multiple studies documented positive behavioral outcomes, with at least one study indicating positive behavioral impacts at least one year after the intervention ended.

Competency 1 : Self Awareness: 


Competency 3 : Self-management: 


Competency 4 : Responsible decision-making: 


Competency 5 : Relationship skills: 


Identified Theoretical Framework: 


Identified Theoretical Framework Description: 

The program is based in part on the risk and protective factor prevention science framework. Research has consistently shown that children with poor self-regulation and social-emotional skills are at risk for developing problems in school and later in life and that social competence, peer friendships, school connectedness and many of the specific skills taught in the Second Step program protect children from negative outcomes. Therefore, the Second Step curriculum, a universal prevention program, is designed to develop skills that are central to children’s healthy social-emotional development, including self-regulation, empathy, emotion management and problem solving.

Survey/Audit Tools Available: 



Frey, K. S., Nolen, S. B., Edstrom, L. V., & Hirschstein, M. K. (2005). Effects of a school-based social-emotional competence program: Linking children’s goals, attributions and behavior. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 171-200.

Grossman, D. C., Neckerman, H. J., Koepsell, T. D., Liu, P. Y., Asher, K. N. Beland, K., et al. (1997). Effectiveness of a violence prevention curriculum among children in elementary school. A randomised controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 277, 1605-1611.

McMahon, S. D., & Washburn, J. J. (2003). Violence prevention: An evaluation of program effects with urban African American students. Journal of Primary Prevention, 24, 43-62.

McMahon, S. D., & Washburn., Felix, E. D., Yakin, J., & Childrey, G (2000). Violence prevention: Program effects on urban preschool and kindergarten children. Applied and Preventitive Psychology, 9, 271-281.

Osmondson, E. (2000). Second Step curriculum effective for reducing student impulsive and aggressive behavior and improving pro-social skills. Unpublished manuscript.

Schick, A., & Cierpka, M. (2005). Faustlos: Evaluation of the curriculum to prevention violence in elementary schools. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 11, 157-165.

Taub, J. (2002). Evaluation of the Second Step Violence Prevention Program at a rural elementary school. School Psychology Review, 31, 186-200.



Committee for Children

About the Author(s): 

Committee for Children is an internationally focused nonprofit organization located in Seattle, Washington, USA. Committee for Children develops evidence-based programs for the prevention of violence, child abuse, and bullying, and to promote social, emotional and academic development. The organisation’s programs are used in over 25,000 schools across North America, and translated/culturally adapted editions are used in 15 additional countries as diverse as Japan, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and Iraq. Over 250 schools in the UK are currently implementing the  Second Step program.

Contact Information: 

Jenny Williams

Australian Partner Committee for Children

PO Box 384

Samford QLD 4520

Phone 1300769919

Email :