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Building a Strong Foundation at Stamford American School Hong Kong

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As adults we are aware of the impact our emotional wellbeing has on our work, so we can’t be surprised that the same is true for our children whose primary job is to be a student. The Second Step® programme at Stamford American School Hong Kong supports students holistically by developing essential socio- emotional skills that they will need to navigate through life.

Stamford’s Second Step ® programme gives students the tools to excel in and out of the classroom, achieving their academic and personal goals. The programme promotes skills for learning, empathy, emotion management and conflict management all of which are needed to develop a strong emotional foundation.

Mia Nortje, counsellor at Stamford says, “The Second Step® programme has been shown to increase pro-social behaviour, as it helps to give students strategies to make good  choices by fostering empathy and awareness of others.”

The programme also offers children practical strategies to cope with situations such as bullying; this means not only supporting their peers by being responsible bystanders but also learning how to refuse bullying.

From Pre-Primary (age 5) to Grade 8, students have a dedicated lesson each week where they go through various scenarios related to a topic which addresses a central theme. Practical exercises allow students to problem solve through the situations with the support of teachers and peers.

In the elementary years (Pre-primary to Grade 5), the main focus is on building a strong foundation in four main areas: skills for learning, empathy,  emotion management and problem-solving. At each grade level, the students explore these central topics through content which is age appropriate.

For example, as part of the fourth theme problem-solving, Pre- primary and Grade 1 students learn about fair play; Grade 2 students learn about playing fairly in the playground; Grade 3 students discuss peer exclusion and the Grade 4s and 5s learn how to cope with peer pressure, which can be quite overwhelming at a young age.

“As children enter middle school, the programme shifts away from the foundational skills to focus on the skills needed to navigate successfully into adulthood, thus preparing students for more complex challenges. The themes that middle school students explore are mindsets and goals, values and friendships, and thoughts, emotions and decisions,” says Ashley Perkins, school counsellor.

For example, as part of the theme mindsets and goals, Grade 6 students learn about setting goals, Grade 7 students learn content such as embracing challenges, and Grade 8 learners look at overcoming failure.

Even as adults many still struggle with some of these skills, so ensuring strong support at this stepping stone is critical. In middle school children are developing their identities and also navigating towards adulthood, supporting them through this pivotal phase is vital to ensure emotional wellbeing and success in high school and beyond.

“Once children are in high school, the programme becomes very personalised, as they move into an advisory programme and discuss preparation for beyond college,” says Ashley. “Each student has an advisor, but the students themselves must also take on more responsibility for their wellbeing.

“At Stamford, supporting students at every step, in and out of the classroom, is a top priority; academics are important, but a strong socio-emotional foundation is also needed to ensure a successful and happy future.”


Stamford American School Hong Kong is a world-class international school offering a rigorous standards-based education for children aged five to 18 years old. The goal is to instil an enthusiasm for lifelong learning and a sense of global awareness in every student, along with the necessary skills to prepare them for the challenges and changes which lie ahead after they graduate.

Stamford offers an interdisciplinary curriculum and seeks to offer students a choice of graduating with either the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme or American High School Diploma, or both.

While high standards are set for academic achievement and performance, Stamford’s educational programme has been created with an emphasis on the development of the whole child. The school offers specialised programmes across all subjects, including a problem-based Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMinn) programme, a differentiated Fountas and Pinnell Levelled Reading programme, structured Physical Education based on the Society of Health and Physical Educators standards, and a challenging Visual and Performing Arts programme based on the Massachusetts Arts Curriculum.


  • Stamford American School Hong Kong, www.sais.edu.hk
  • School Campus, 25 Man Fuk Road, Ho Man Tin, 3467 4500
  • Admissions Office, Suites 4005-4007, Level 40 Two
  • Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Central, 2500 8688


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