The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Snyder County

December 13, 2012

Sponsors sought for anti-bullying program

SUNBURY — The Early Learning Investment Committee of the Susquehanna River Valley is seeking sponsors to help area early childcare and preschool providers implement a social-emotional skills curriculum for their preschoolers to help prevent bullying starting in the preschool years.

Mike Piecuch, Snyder County district attorney and a sponsor in its pilot year, said: “We know that what children learn at a very early age has lasting impacts throughout their lifetime. By providing these curriculum to early childhood professionals, we are teaching preschoolers empathy, coping and friendship skills that we believe help children develop positive relationships, help bystanders intervene when observing a bullying situation and prevent bullying victims from ever considering taking their own lives.”

In the second year of the committee’s “Nice Never Hurts” initiative, Discovery Preschool at the Middlecreek Area Community Center in Beaver Springs, the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA Day Care Center in Milton, Heaven’s Little Angels in Middleburg and Kid’s Korner Learning Center in Sunbury will implement Second Step.

The Second Step is a research-based curriculum that is easy to use and endorsed by the state Office of Child Development and Early Learning. At the preschool level, the curriculum teaches social-emotional skills such as identifying and coping with feelings, empathy, friendship and problem-solving skills and skills for learning. Teachers explore themed lessons through the use of puppets, songs and activities, which correspond with five units taught over a 28-week period.

Materials include a teaching guide and online resources for families to expand the lessons learned to the home.

Positive results have been realized in the pilot program’s first year.

“This program has been fantastic,” said Joy Hoke, Sunbury Day Care director for the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA. “We have seen children who used to become physically aggressive by hitting and kicking now say they are frustrated and angry. They are able to calm themselves down before escalating to a fight.”

Robinwood Day Care Director Susan Smith Milley embraces the program. “The teaching methods are practical, presented in a fun way and can be taught not only in the classroom, but out on the playground or during lunch,” she said. “Teachers can use the methods learned from Second Step to help children cope and problem-solve throughout their day.”

Karen Ulp, coordinator of Early Care and Education Coalition of Northumberland, Snyder and Union Counties, said: “To make the most of the curriculum, we felt strongly that directors and teachers receive face-to-face training. The programs receive five hours of training within the first six to eight months. Another component to the training is observation and consultation at about six to eight weeks of implementation so that programs can receive constructive feedback on what they are doing well and tips for improvement.”

Businesses or individuals can sponsor a curriculum for $300, help with the cost of training for $150 or give any amount toward a kit or training. It is $750 to sponsor the full cost of a kit and two-year implementation follow-up. For information to become a sponsor or to implement the curriculum at a childcare program in Northumberland, Snyder or Union counties, call Ulp, ECE coordinator with the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way, at 988-0993 or by email at ececoord@gsvuw.org.

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