Here are the answers to your most frequently asked questions. If you need additional information, do not hesitate to contact us.
What is a coping strategy and what is it used for?
Coping strategies are different means or solutions we use to feel better or improve a situation. Coping strategies can be used when we find ourselves in a new or difficult situation, and they vary widely from person to person. Children can use coping strategies to deal with jealousy, conflicts with friends, changing classes or schools, stress before an exam, etc.
Through the programme, children learn how to identify and evaluate their coping strategies on their own, according to two rules: the strategy 1) improves the situation or helps them feel better; and 2) it does not harm anyone, including themselves. Examples of strategies that children use include: confiding in an adult, finding a quiet place to calm down, petting an animal, asking for help, listening to music, etc.
Why is it important to expand a child’s inventory of coping strategies?
Passport: Skills for Life is based on several studies that have shown that acquiring a larger inventory of coping strategies helps to limit the negative consequences often associated with difficult situations and promotes a greater level of emotional well-being. Any given coping strategy is not necessarily effective for everyone, or every situation. That’s why it is critical to have several strategies on hand to deal with difficulties. People who have a broad inventory of coping strategies also have more resources to handle stress, which allows them to reduce the negative effects of the problems they are experiencing. Consequently, they experience less short-and long-term distress and succeed in better overcoming life’s challenges. By developing coping strategies early in childhood, children integrate these skills and continue to use them throughout adolescence and adulthood.
What distinguishes Passport: Skills for Life from other programmes?
It is one of the few programmes that supports the development of coping strategies in children in order to help them deal with new and difficult everyday situations, and that addresses the themes of loss and injustice. In addition to relying on recognized scientific research, this programme has undergone a rigorous evaluation of its implementation and impact, with positive results. It was also designed with feedback from teachers involved in the evaluation, and follows the recommendations of experts in children’s social and emotional learning.
Passport: Skills for Life is a psychosocial intervention that has been recognized to be effective for all children, regardless of their characteristics, and is delivered in the classroom. Teachers guide the children in their learning, but it is the children themselves who find and evaluate their coping strategies.
Why conduct the programme in school?
Since education is mandatory in Canada, intervening in a school setting makes it possible to reach most children. Moreover, the school is a key environment for the socialization of children, who spend most of their time there. School is often where friendships are made and broken, and where conflicts occur. By developing children’s coping and social skills, Passport: Skills for Life contributes to their school success and improves the classroom atmosphere, by mitigating certain problematic behaviours and reducing school violence. Research has shown that all of these elements are closely associated with students’ academic performance.
Why does the teacher deliver the programme?
The experience with Zippy’s Friends, which inspired the Passport: Skills for Life programme, showed that it is preferable that activities be led by teachers in the classroom. In schools, the teacher is generally the person most present for the children and the person who spends the most time with them. When conducting the sessions, the teacher can use situations that actually occurred in the class and can return daily to the concepts addressed in the programme, thereby reinforcing what they have learned. For example, when children experience conflicts and difficulties during the day or at recess, the teacher can encourage them to use the concepts learned in the programme. The teacher’s presence, therefore, is an opportunity for the children to put what they have learned into practice and further expand their inventory of coping strategies.
How much time is required to prepare and deliver the programme sessions?
Passport: Skills for Life is a turnkey programme comprised of 17 sessions, 55 minutes each. All of the required material is ready to use and the sessions always follow the same order, which reduces preparation time and allows the teacher to fully focus on delivery in the classroom. Moreover, teachers receive two rounds of training (before and mid-stream), which allows them to fully grasp all of the activities and material. As a result, preparation time for the sessions is generally very short, that is, no more than 15 to 25 minutes.
Does the programme fit well into the school curriculum?
Passport: Skills for Life fits easily into the school curriculum through its educational activities and its vocabulary, which are similar to that used in the classroom. Several teachers who have delivered the programme were easily able to integrate it with other academic subjects. In addition, at the end of many sessions, the teacher’s guide provides tips on how to link them to concepts in the regular curriculum.
The programme also integrates well with Healthy School and Whole School approach already employed in several Canadian provinces. Passport: Skills for Life respects the principles of these approaches, while developing recommended competencies and targeting determinants in academic achievement and school success for elementary school students.
Is training necessary for delivering the programme?
Teacher training is essential for delivering Passport: Skills for Life. It allows teachers to develop and integrate key programme concepts in order to facilitate delivery in the classroom. Discussions among teachers during the training are also very enriching. Following the training, teachers have access to complementary resources and activities available on a reserved area on the website (to come). They are also able to benefit from continuous support from the CRISE team, throughout the school year.
What are the class activities like?
Each session begins with reading a comic strip used to illustrate the theme being addressed in a fun way. Led by the teachers, the activities take the form of group discussions, situational activities and role-playing around a giant board game. Through these fun and interactive activities, the children can identify, share and evaluate their strategies, as well as discover those of their classmates, and then try them out.
What are the parent-children activities?
These activities are short and entertaining. They generally involve questions and discussions on the programme’s themes, which allow parents and children to discover their preferences, opinions, etc. Parents and children really appreciate them, since they get everyone laughing and are an opportunity to get to know one another better. These activities also allow parents to accompany their children through the process and to better know what they are learning in the programme. Furthermore, they help to revisit the concepts learned in class and to discuss themes that are not often addressed at home.
Where can I find additional information on the themes addressed in the programme?
Here are a few external resources for your consideration compiled by the CRISE team that address themes explored in the programme. The teachers who deliver the programme also have access to complementary activities accessible in a reserved area on the website (to come).
How do I go about having the Passport: Skills for Life programme offered in a class or a school?
Whether you are a parent, teacher, school professional or administrator, you can play an important role in improving the well-being of elementary school children. Visit the Participate section to find out how to get involved in using the programme in your school or for information on the costs of implementing the programme (teaching material and teacher training).