St. George’s School Blog

Research Shows Resilience Provides Students with Lessons for Life

Parents are right to search for a private school in Montreal that provides a curriculum of challenge and depth along with the talented teachers to administer it with craft and care.  But a new subject is rising in education today as experts are finding there’s something more to achieving the best academic outcomes for our children. Research shows that building resilience in children also plays a key role in developing into a positive, productive adult.

It takes the old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and turns it into, “Who do you want to be when you grow up?”

Resilience is, quite simply, creating a good outcome in the face of adversity.

Think of it like a seesaw, with positive outcomes on one side and negative outcomes on the other.  Each person’s center, where the seesaw rests and balances, is initially determined by our DNA and then is adjusted by our lifetime experiences and how we’re taught to respond to them.

When positive experiences build up and a child learns coping skills that help them to manage stress, their center slides so the seesaw tips to allow the child’s feet to touch the ground.  When that child accepts struggle as a part of learning and growth, and also accepts that perseverance is necessary to see objectives through to conclusion, the seesaw tips even further to the positive – grounding them even more.


How Resilience is Built

Resilience is built over time. It comes as the result of responsive and positive interactions with the child in a way that introduces tools, or coping skills, which allow them to take a positive next step after a negative experience.  Tools include building optimism from a foundation of a flexible attitude as well as the understanding of others’ perspectives.

The skills and attributes of resilient children include empathy and optimism, communication and problem solving, as well as the ability to set and achieve goals.  All are traits of healthy, positive, productive adults.

“Resilient children also know when, where and how to seek out resources or help,” says Nathalie Bossé, Assistant Head of St. George’s School of Montreal and its Centre for Learning Enrichment (CLE).  St. George’s CLE is a think tank and research centre of the best practices in teaching and learning in private education. Its understanding of how students grow, in school and in life, inspires programs and teaching at the school’s elementary and high school campuses.

“When students develop these skills, we know that they will be better prepared to effectively cope with and recover from change, stress or challenging life situations,” Bossé adds.


Who Builds Resilience

The other key component in the resilience equation is in the adults who convey these lessons.  They may be parents, teachers, coaches or others who spend a lot of time with the child like an aunt or grandparent.

“The extent to which we can build capacities in all children to be able to deal with whatever major obstacles may be coming down the track is an investment of building strong human capital and healthy, productive adults,” according to Jack Shonkoff, M.D, from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, a centre involved deeply in this resilience research.

“As students develop adaptive skills to deal with stress and challenging realities from an early age, they shape a vision of themselves and the world,” Bossé adds. “This empowers them with the ability to adjust to challenges beyond their current academic achievements and apply their resilience skills toward things like post-secondary successes,” she concludes.


St. George’s School of Montreal teaches resilience at its elementary and high
school levels.  To learn about what this program might offer your child, contact
St. George’s at 514-937-9289.

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