Profile of young people by school cycle

This section presents a summary profile of the development of young people by education cycle, with information on:

  • the cognitive, socio-emotional and physical development of young people
  • how young people are confronted with various situations that can influence their health, well-being and educational success

This information helps focus on taking the right actions at the right time in young people’s development. The knowledge provided in the ÉKIP framework is based on this profile.

Preschool (4-6 years old)

  • I have sufficient coordination and balance to participate in a variety of physical activities. Because I tend to overestimate my abilities, I need to be reminded to act safely.
  • I need rest during the day and restorative sleep at night.
  • I reason intuitively, but I am becoming increasingly aware of the difference between the real and the imaginary and between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
  • I internalize my gender identity. I try to find my place within my family and I ask questions about my birth (“Where do I come from?”).
  • I distinguish and express simple emotions when I feel them—joy, sadness, anger and fear—as well as their intensity.
  • I gradually develop self-control: impulse control, motor impulses and frustrations. I have a better understanding of the circumstances in which I should make an effort to control myself.
  • I tend to form friendships with those I am around most often or who share the same activities. I am able to collaborate on a shared project with two or three other children. I am able to resolve my differences with the help of an adult.
  • My growing autonomy, my curiosity and my capacity for self-control help me succeed as I enter the world of school.

Elementary Cycle One (6-8 years old)

  • I am able to carry out concrete operations, which allows me to learn to manipulate numbers and to read.
  • I am able to set simple, short-term goals.
  • I am able to describe myself in concrete terms and give myself constructive self-criticism. The successes and failures I experience shape my sense of competence.
  • My gender identity is generally acquired (gender consolidation). I identify and associate with adults and children of the same gender.
  • I exercise self-control in normal classroom situations. I can increasingly decode the intentions of others in their actions, provided they are not ambiguous.
  • I am less self-centred, and I enjoy sharing.
  • I still rely heavily on adults to make me feel confident or safe and to resolve my conflicts.
  • I am beginning to develop friendships based on common interests.

Elementary Cycle Two (8-10 years old)

  • I am getting better at assessing distances or trajectories according to time. This contributes to my autonomy when travelling by foot, such as when walking home from school.
  • When I take part in physical activity, my enthusiasm—sometimes overwhelming—can interfere with my ability to assess risk, leaving me vulnerable to injury.
  • I am becoming able to reason deductively and to disregard irrelevant information when problem-solving.
  • I am concerned with expressing my thoughts correctly. I recognize that other people may interpret things differently and behave differently in certain situations.
  • I recognize attitudes and behaviours that interfere with group life and that promote it.
  • I try to define myself by trying all kinds of activities.
  • My friendships are becoming increasingly important, but I still enjoy doing activities with my parents.
  • I still tend to associate with children of my gender and avoid relationships with the opposite gender.

Elementary Cycle Three (10-12 years old)

  • The first signs of puberty have started to appear, and my body is changing. These changes tend to appear earlier in girls (9-10 years) than in boys (11-13 years). The changes associated with puberty can affect my body image, especially if I am a girl.
  • I am gradually taking full responsibility for my personal hygiene.
  • I am becoming more interested in abstract ideas and concepts, but I continue to express myself in concrete terms. I am becoming aware of the short-term consequences of my actions.
  • I am aware of my various social roles: student, older brother, best friend, etc. I wish I were grown up and I imitate those who are older than me. I identify with various role models (e.g. celebrities). I increasingly use my clothing, musical and other choices to define and assert myself. I am entering preadolescence.
  • I am beginning to reflect on my occupational identity: I think about the future, question my interests and begin to articulate educational or career aspirations.
  • I can competently distinguish nuances in my emotional state as well as complex feelings such as embarrassment, shame or guilt.
  • I place increasing importance on the opinions of my friends about my choices of consumer goods and lifestyle habits. I am beginning to feel the need to have a friend with whom I can share secrets. I might experience my first romantic feelings.
  • In Elementary 6, I have mixed feelings as I anticipate the start of secondary school: I am both excited at the idea of greater autonomy and worried that I will not be able to meet the new academic requirements.

Secondary Cycle One (12-14 years old)

  • If I am a girl, the changes associated with puberty continue. If I am a boy, these changes begin.
  • My sleep-wake cycle may be altered by the hormonal changes associated with puberty.
  • I tend to reduce the amount of time I spend on physical activity and sleep.
  • I am becoming more aware of the risks and consequences of my actions. However, my interest in new experiences and my need to satisfy my desires immediately, combined with social influences, can lead me to engage in actions that are potentially dangerous or harmful to my health.
  • I am concerned about my image and my popularity with my peers. I feel the need to please others and I explore different forms of seduction.
  • My body image might be changing and, especially if I am a girl, may become less positive as I go through physical transformations.
  • My ability to regulate my behaviour and manage stress is not yet at its full potential.

Secondary Cycle Two (14-17 years old)

  • I’ve mostly completed puberty, but my brain and cognitive functions are still maturing. I am improving my ability for abstract and hypothetical reasoning.
  • I am able to use logical and nuanced reasoning. I can organize my thoughts and plan for the short, medium and long term.
  • My ability to put into perspective the risks of my actions with their immediate or long-term benefits continues to improve.
  • The development of my judgment leads me to increasingly consider the principles recognized as essential to the well-being of the community: justice, dignity, human rights, social solidarity, etc. I am therefore constructing my consciousness of citizenship.
  • My autonomy and self-sufficiency are growing. I am steadily more autonomous with respect to my lifestyle choices. My consumption of alcohol and drugs may increase progressively throughout secondary school, with a slightly marked increase starting in Secondary III.
  • If I am a girl, my physical activity tends to decrease.
  • I am better able to use rational strategies to anticipate consequences, control my impulses, self-regulate my emotions, manage my stress and adjust my behaviours or attitudes.
  • The older I get, the more romantic relationships gain importance, even though I still consider my friendships essential.
  • My last years of secondary school, especially Secondary III, are a pivotal time in my life. It is during this time that I will have to make decisions that will have a major impact on my occupational and social life. It is also a time when I may be less academically motivated, compromising my perseverance, and when I may struggle with my self-esteem.

Last update: March 20, 2024


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