SkillSense provides a framework for teaching social-emotional skills in a thoughtful progression from kindergarten through 12th grade across West Michigan.

Skills at Every Stage

While approximately two skills are emphasized every 2-3 years, this does not mean students do not naturally learn about or use them beforehand. In the same way, they do not stop learning about and using them after the grade band has passed.

These are skills that are applied throughout a lifetime.

Please note: The progression and resources outlined by SkillSense are meant to support, not replace, what is being done at individual districts or schools. Many schools work with similar initiatives under different descriptions. The grade bands and corresponding skills are intended to help educators verify their work and explore where improvements might be needed.

The grade-specific skills are explored in more detail below. Each skill section includes a link to teaching resources for grade-appropriate teaching of skills.

Communication is Key


Learning to listen, speak, read, and write effectively is an essential task, especially in the early grades. As a result, this skill is emphasized across all of the grade bands but is especially highlighted in grades K-3.

Elementary (Grades K-5)

The elementary grades build the foundation for social-emotional skills, with a focus on Communication, Participation and Good Choices, Teamwork and Achievement and Responsibility and Reasoning.

Grades K-1: Participation and Good Choices


K-1: Participation and Good Choices

Participation skills including being able to contribute, ask questions, listen carefully and are able to share participation time with others.

Good Choices

Good Choices involve thinking about one’s actions and demonstrating empathy for others.

Grades 2-3: Teamwork and Achievement


Teamwork skills include being pleasant, cooperative, sensitive to others and easy to get along with; having a preference for associating with other students. Students learn how to know their team, have empathy, include the whole team and set and achieve goals as a team.


Achievement involves setting goals, trying to succeed at those goals, and striving for competence. Students learn how to set goals, have a growth mindset, learn from struggles and failure, and to put in effort.

Middle School (Grades 6-8)

In the Middle School grades, progress continues on Responsibility and Reasoning, along with the introduction of Time Management and Technology Management. (Communication continues to be emphasized as a foundational skill in every grade.)

Grades 7-8: Time Management and Technology Management

Time Management

Time Management involves attendance and punctuality, being attentive to project milestones and deadlines, and scheduling with others. Students learn to be on time and prepared, how to plan and prioritize, keep commitments and be efficient.

Tech Management

Tech Management involves the effective use of technology and the maturity and self-control to limit technology distractions. Students learn the appropriate time to use technology, how to avoid distractions, effective communication and the importance of managing their online presence.

High School (Grades 9-12)

The High School-level skills continue to build on those learned starting in kindergarten, while introducing higher-level skills of Decisiveness, Adaptability and Innovation.

Grades 9-10: Decisiveness and Adaptability


Decisiveness is the ability to show leadership and independence, developing one’s own way of doing things, and guiding and depending on one’s self. It involves making decisions easier, not being afraid of mistakes, considering impacts on others, and reflecting without regret.


Adaptability involves maturity, poise, flexibility, and restraint to cope with pressure, stress, criticism and setbacks. It means allowing for disappointment, looking on the bright side, staying calm and committed.

Grades 11-12: Innovation


Innovation is the ability to generate new idea, processes and products that have value to
the student as well as a wider audience. Students learn how to identify and investigate issues and opportunities, to think broadly and to strategically select and test.