Pomona, CA

A Positive Change for Head Start Classrooms

In her job with the Pomona, CA Unified School District’s Head Start program, Megan Wilson has to be very comfortable with change. Or, as she puts it, “Never a single day like any other day.”

So when Wilson—who is the disabilities coordinator, but also oversees social-emotional learning (SEL)—asked her teachers to implement Second Step SEL for Early Learning, she was very happy with the change she saw in the classrooms, in the children themselves, and in their families. “I really like watching families change as they support children’s needs, and seeing the parents’ pleasure with watching their children grow and change in the course of a year or two,” she says. “It just really keeps me going.”

From Abstract to Concrete

Wilson has seen Second Step for Early Learning help kids develop their executive-function skills earlier in the year than they do without it. “Skills like self-regulation, focus, attention, listening skills, emotion—a lot of these concepts are very abstract. And with preschoolers, you have to be very concrete. You have to be able to show them what it is.” And Wilson says the program helps them do just that: “It’s all laid out for them, week by week, theme by theme, one skill upon the other to get to the point where they’re ready for kindergarten. I think it’s really a very easy curriculum to use.”

“It Worked!”

Not everyone is as comfortable with change as Wilson is, though. She had one particular teacher who had children with challenging behaviors in her class, but who wasn’t excited about teaching Second Step lessons. But she was, as Wilson tells it, “really pleasantly surprised with the outcome at the end of the year. She said to me, ‘Megan, you know, I was really skeptical about those puppets, but the kids, they just magnetized towards them. And they think the puppet is a real person. And they’re talking to the puppet. And they really listened when I used the puppets. And it worked!’”

Wilson sums up the program’s benefits to her Head Start classrooms neatly: “I think Second Step is really great as a positive change.”