Competencies to be developed in young people from preschool to Secondary V

Young people experience different situations that may be related to:

  • their lifestyle habits
  • their social relationships
  • changes, transitions or other stressful events

Young people face a number of challenges:

  • at school: new math skills, group work
  • in adapting: new school, new family member
  • in relationships: difference of opinion with a friend, meeting new people
  • in adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits: choosing healthy eating habits, being physically active, moving in safe way

They experience periods of major transition, such as starting school, entering puberty, and finishing secondary school and starting college or entering the workforce. Some situations can be particularly stressful. Some young people find themselves facing intolerable situations (e.g. aggression, bullying, violence) or adversity (e.g. bereavement, loss, illness, accident).

To help young people deal with these kinds of situations, seven competencies, to be developed from preschool to Secondary V, are proposed:

These competencies are broken down into content adapted to the different stages of development, and information sheets present the knowledge associated with each level of instruction. Although the situations young people experience may touch on various themes, the same competencies in various combinations will provide them with the tools they need.

These competencies are developed through structured educational interventions.

Structured educational promotion-prevention interventions will:

  • target the acquisition of knowledge and progressive development of competencies
  • include one or more planned activities that are meaningful and engaging for the student so that learning is sustainable and transferable
  • take place under appropriate teaching and learning conditions (use of recognized pedagogical practices, respect for stages of development, appropriate intervention approach, positive climate, optimal use of community resources)
  • provide means of verifying the acquisition of knowledge and the progressive development of the targeted competencies

These interventions should provide meaningful learning situations for young people based on their development and life experiences. It has been shown that learning that takes place in meaningful contexts contributes to motivation and student perseverance.

Adopts prosocial behaviours

Prosocial behaviours refer to actions, words and behaviours that demonstrate consideration for the needs of others, an ability to understand the point of view of others and a desire for social interaction. Prosocial behaviours are part of the broader concept of social skills. Two major elements must be addressed to develop this competency:

  • ability to interact well with others, including the ability to initiate relationships
  • interpersonal conflict resolution

Key concepts for adopting prosocial behaviours

  • importance of positive interpersonal relationships
  • factors contributing to creating and maintaining positive interpersonal relationships
  • respect
  • openness
  • appropriate communication
  • co-operation
  • empathy
  • conflict resolution process

Acquires self-knowledge

Self-knowledge is crucial for the development of all other competencies. Self-knowledge refers to a set of personal characteristics and traits, values and roles that young people recognize as part of themselves, such as:

  • tastes and interests
  • qualities and shortcomings
  • limitations and strengths
  • physical appearance
  • academic goals

The objective is to enable young people to know themselves better on a physical, emotional, academic and social level. The knowledge related to this competency is a precursor to making informed decisions related to educational success, social relationships, lifestyle habits and adaptation:

  • in difficult situations, such as conflict, failure or unfairness
  • during major events, such as the transition from elementary to secondary school
  • in the face of adversity, such as the death of a parent, a fire or an accident

Key concepts for acquiring self-knowledge

  • physical features
  • body image
  • tastes and interests
  • feelings and emotions
  • talents and skills
  • qualities and shortcomings
  • expectations
  • limits

Asks for help

Young people are led to ask for help for themselves or for others when in situations that exceed their ability to cope or capacity to support another person. Asking for help is a sign of taking charge of the situation and can be a good way to set boundaries.

Key concepts for asking for help for oneself or others

  • identification of situations in which help is required
  • recognition of what a situation requires and of their own limitations
  • obstacles to asking for help
  • search for relevant information based on the situation
  • referral to appropriate resources (individuals, organizations)

Becomes socially engaged

Being socially engaged refers to young people’s active participation in decision-making and in actions that promote their health, well-being and educational success. Actions taken by young people should be relevant to them and to the community. Involving young people in the creation or strengthening of supportive environments contributes to their empowerment.

Key concepts for being socially engaged

  • importance of active engagement
  • importance of following the rules for healthy and safe environments
  • sense of commitment
  • participation in decision-making
  • advocacy for positive environments
  • participation in actions to create positive environments

Makes informed lifestyle choices

Lifestyle habits refer to a complex and dynamic set of actions frequently or regularly carried out by young people in different aspects of their lives. These habits affect young people’s readiness to learn, as well as their success, health and well-being. They sometimes affect others as well. These lifestyle habits can be linked to:

  • healthy eating habits
  • sleep
  • physical activity (sports, recreation, active transportation)
  • personal and oral hygiene
  • alcohol, drug or tobacco use
  • gambling
  • sexuality

Making informed lifestyle choices involves thinking critically about one’s habits. It is a complex process, especially in stressful or emotional situations, which calls on several cognitive skills. Throughout their development, young people must be able to:

  • understand the situations in which they have a choice to make
  • gradually discern the consequences that one choice over another may have on their health, well-being and educational success
  • set goals and take steps to achieve them
  • identify alternatives where applicable

Key concepts for making informed lifestyle choices

  • understanding of lifestyle habits
  • understanding of the effects of lifestyle habits on educational success, health and well-being
  • factors that influence lifestyle habits
  • strategies and ways to maintain and improve lifestyle habits

Manages emotions and stress

Emotional and stress management refers to a set of responses and reactions that young people must develop in order to control, reduce or cope with disruptions caused by:

  • stressful or difficult situations: exams, unfairness, break-ups, moving, parental separation
  • intolerable situations: abuse, violence, bullying
  • adversity: bereavement, illness, accidents

Young people must develop a wide range of coping strategies to deal with these various situations.

Managing emotions and stress begins with recognizing and understanding these states.

Key concepts for managing emotions and stress

  • recognition of emotions and stress: physical manifestations, facial and vocal expressions
  • emotional vocabulary for the appropriate expression of feelings being experienced: anger, sadness, joy, fear
  • sources of emotions and stress: loss, conflict, unfairness, good news, transitions, bereavement, significant events
  • consequences of emotions and stress: isolation, withdrawal, anxiety, aggression, difficulty concentrating, physical symptoms
  • simple stress management techniques, coping strategies

Manages social influences

Throughout their development, young people are subject to influences from the people around them and the society they live in—from parental culture, peer pressure, advertising, social norms, and stereotypes. These influences, both positive and negative, shape young people’s behaviours, choices, attitudes and opinions. As they grow older, the influences to which they are exposed materialize in different situations, such as in the choosing activities based on gender stereotypes, engaging in safe behaviours, or deciding whether or not to use tobacco products.

In order to develop their ability to act as a positive role model and to manage situations in which they face negative influence, young people must:

  • recognize the various sources of influence and their consequences and understand their potential effects on success, health and well-being
  • learn how to distinguish between positive and negative influences
  • recognize the importance of acting as a positive role model
  • gradually develop a critical distance from the messages around them
  • recognize situations in which strategies to resist negative influences are required and apply them in everyday life

Key concepts for managing social influences

  • sources of social influences
  • consequences and effects on educational success, health and well-being
  • identification of positive role models
  • strategies for resisting negative influences
  • critical distance from messages (e.g. stereotypes, prejudices, beliefs, advertising strategies, marketing)

Last update: March 20, 2024


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