Adolescents who are committed to learning recognize the value of successfully completing school and search out and participate in learning activities outside of school. They are motivated to achieve academically and have learned how to learn. They have the qualities and opportunities they need to learn the intellectual and life skills required for successful functioning in later life.

Adolescents who are committed to learning are prepared to stay in school and to search out and participate in learning activities outside of school. They are motivated to achieve academically and have learned how to learn. They have the opportunities they need to learn the intellectual and life skills required for a successful transition.

The school experience is central to children and young people’s ability to develop a commitment to learning. Research suggests that students achieve better outcomes in schools that have a favourable disciplinary climate, strong parental involvement and high expectations of student performance. (220)

Schools and governments need to consider the importance of sustaining interventions over time. Simple, inexpensive strategies that fit into school routines are more likely to become ongoing than expensive approaches that require radical changes to school routines or the assistance of highly specialized resource personnel.

Helping children adjust to the transition from elementary school to intermediate and high school can improve academic achievements, school attendance and social interactions. This can be done by creating a welcoming, safe environment for students in transition, providing school-based social support, and classroom programs that focus on problem solving and improving coping responses to stress during the transition. (87) This may be especially important for Aboriginal students whose school drop-out rates are two to four times higher than non-Aboriginal students. (254)

Current estimates suggest that some 14 percent of young Canadians do not finish high school. (53) The age and grade level at which students leave without a diploma is surprising. Almost 40 percent of leavers in The School Leavers Survey were aged 16 or less when they left school and 32 percent had grade nine education or less.

The differences between leavers and graduates have important implications for families, schools and communities. Leavers are more likely to:

  • come from families who did not think high school graduation is important

  • come from families experiencing problems and needing help

  • have failed in elementary school

  • be less involved in leisure-time activities

  • report that they did not enjoy school

  • participate less in class

  • associate with peers not attending school and peers who did not consider high school completion important

  • skip classes.

Family expectations and the learning environment in the home may affect how children perform in school even more than what goes on in the school. (333) It is important to provide instruction for parents who require help with basic literacy and number skills and to offer English/French-as-a-second-language classes to immigrant and refugee families. Without this help, parents may remain isolated and uninvolved in their children’s learning. See the International Children's Institute for information on supporting immigrant families.

Influences on the positive outcome:Age-appropriate social skills

Supportive home environment

Support of significant others


Supportive learning and living environments


Note: These influences are also listed in the drop-down list above. Please use this menu to navigate within this page.

Supportive home environment


  • Value staying in school and graduating. Talk with your children about the importance of education.

  • Provide opportunities for learning outside of school. Take young children to the library, exhibits, etc., and encourage older children to go on their own.

  • Be a role model. Keep learning yourself through reading, studying or taking courses.

  • Nurture your children’s interests, whether they are in music, science, reading, sports, computers, etc.

  • Read to young children and as they get older, encourage them to read on their own.

  • Monitor school attendance carefully. If your child is missing a lot of school, find out why and work closely with the school to achieve regular attendance.

  • Be involved in your children’s schools and encourage learning activities at home. Contact your local home and school association for help. They may have a Parent Resource Kit Project designed to help parents be more involved in their children's schooling.


  • Encourage parents to be involved in their children’s schools. This may require outreach initiatives for parents who do not speak English or French or for isolated parents who are uncomfortable coming to the school to meet with teachers.

  • Give parents suggestions for learning activities that they can do at home with their children. Encourage parents to supervise older children’s homework.

  • Sponsor parent groups and events on child and youth development and that help children and youth adjust to intermediate or high school.

  • Sponsor heritage language classes to help immigrant children master their original language – this has been associated with improved school performance.

  • Set up a centre in the school, where parents are welcome to drop in, to meet other parents, to obtain information about child development. This will help parents learn to feel comfortable in the school.

  • Offer summer jobs and after school jobs to adolescents, especially to those whose families lack the "connections" to obtain jobs for them.

  • Provide family-friendly policies, for example, flexible work hours, work-at-home arrangements and job sharing to allow parents to spend more time with their children.

  • Train and support managers and supervisors in how to support employees stressed by work and family time concerns.

  • Have "bring your child to work" days so that parents can involve their children in the world of work and reinforce how learning is important to their future.

  • Sponsor literacy and English/French-as-a-second-language programs for parents, family members and children who need them.


  • Sponsor literacy and English/French-as-a-second-language programs for parents, family members and children who need them.

Support of significant others

Children who come from families that do not support learning or who are experiencing difficulties with learning can benefit from a mentor — an adult or older teen who acts as a role model and caring friend. Mentors can be family members, friends, teachers, coaches, faith leaders and members of the learner community. Leaders in activities that appeal to a child’s interest in music, art or sport may be particularly helpful fro nurturing children’s motivation to learn outside of school. Similarly, mentors from unions and workplaces can be excellent tutors in specific subject areas.

There are many good examples of mentoring programs that focus on school, learning and career issues. These may be of medium or long-term duration (one year or more). For more information about mentoring programs, see Understanding Mentoring Relationships.

Peer helping or mentoring has also been shown to be successful. See The Peer Helping Annotated and Indexed Bibliography for more information. Communities in Schools is another excellent model that used mentoring to decrease the number of school drop-outs by 75 percent in a high risk population.

  • Be available and spend time with a child in your extended family who needs the attention of a caring adult.
  • Be a positive role model for children in your extended family.
  • Encourage your children to spend time with other family members and trusted adults in the community.
  • Encourage your children to join activities at school and in the community that are led by trusted adults and peers.

  • Collaborate with schools, workplaces and unions to set up mentoring programs that help children learn and adjust to school. The Industry Education Council initiative is one example of this successful kind of collaboration.
  • Offer adolescents summer jobs with adequate supervision.

  • Consider setting up a mentoring program with retired or current staff and children who have an interest in your business’ area of work.
  • Collaborate with community agencies and schools to set up mentoring programs. For example, in Hamilton, Ontario, the Big Brothers Association, the Bank of Montreal and two school boards have teamed up to offer a mentoring program to inner-city schoolchildren under the Industry-Education Council initiative.
  • Hire young students or take them as volunteers to work with a mentor on-site on a particular project or activity.

Supportive learning and living environments

Foster academic achievement by focussing on the social environment.

  • The Yale Child Study Centre Study showed that in schools that improved communication, mutual understanding, trust, respect and feelings of ownership, students showed significantly higher levels of success in both language and mathematics. (87)

  • Provide clear, school-wide expectations for academic achievement, appropriate conduct, instructional practices and student responsibilities. Help less advantaged students achieve these expectations.

  • Involve students, parents and teachers in decisions related to the school environment.

  • Provide strong administrative leadership.

  • Monitor student’s progress frequently.

  • Provide quality, physical education periods daily. Studies have shown that daily physical activity at school can increase academic success despite the 13 percent decrease in time for academic instruction that this involves. (269) For more information about quality, daily physical activity/education, see Quality Daily Physical Education: The Canadian Association of Physical and Health Education and Dance.

Help children and adolescents make a successful adjustment to school.

  • Increase the number of children who are ready to learn in kindergarten by supporting parents in high risk families and supporting high quality preschool education and childcare.

  • Ensure small classes in grades one to three. This creates an academic advantage that persists for years to come. (334)

  • Provide help early to children who have reading and learning difficulties. These interventions may have a positive effect, not through sustained improvements in cognitive function, but through the long-term effects of successful adjustment to school. (87)

  • Smooth the transition to high school by providing classroom-based programs that teach problem solving and coping skills that improve children’s responses to stressors during the transition to middle school. (87)The Social Decision-Making and Problem-Solving Program which was widely implemented in New Jersey is one example of a curriculum-based, problem-solving program.

  • Smooth the transition to high school by increasing social support. In one study, homeroom teachers were made responsible for maintaining contact with students’ families, and students in the same homeroom attended all four core academic subjects together. Students in this group had better academic and attendance records and viewed the school as more supportive than those in a control group. (61)

  • Provide extra help to students who are experiencing academic difficulties.

  • Form partnerships with community agencies to help young people who are having very serious academic and social problems. Keep school exclusion to a minimum. CAPSLE is one example of a program that offers intensive support to young people aged 10 to 18 who have been suspended from school.

  • Make learning relevant to the world of work.

  • Encourage young people to think about career choices and to learn more about a variety of occupations. The Real Game is a classroom tool that helps 11 to 14-year old students learn about future careers by taking on occupational roles.

  • Provide accessible, motivating learning opportunities for children and youth in a broad range of areas outside of school, for example, music, drama, physical activity, babysitting, first aid, etc.

  • Support youth-serving agencies that teach children social adjustment skills as well as providing learning activities such as Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, and 4H Clubs.

  • Work with schools to develop programs for students who are having academic and social problems. CAPSLE and Communities in Schools are two examples of programs that offer intensive support to young people between the ages of 10 and 18 who have been suspended from school.

  • Work with schools to develop literacy and English/French-as-a-second language programs for families and children. See the International Children's Institute for more information on this.

  • Provide summer jobs for young people, especially for capable youth whose parents lack the "connections" to help them get jobs.

  • Adopt a school. Encourage staff to serve as mentors and support extracurricular activities.
    Sponsor learning events such as science fairs and contests.

  • Work with schools and youth-serving agencies to set up work/volunteer activities for children in the workplace.

  • Sponsor programs and summer camps that help children learn.

  • Sponsor the development, testing and dissemination of innovative learning tools related to your area of business.


  • Support programs that increase readiness for learning in high risk families.

  • Support multidisciplinary prevention activities in schools that address both academic and behavioural outcomes through the creation of a supportive environment. See the Ryerson Outreach Initiative for an example of this kind of activity.

  • Support early intervention activities for students who are experiencing reading difficulties and other academic problems.

  • Support literacy and English/French-as-a-second language programs for families and children.


By the time children reach mid-adolescence, they will have spent more time with their television sets than with their teachers. Broadcast outlets (television, radio and print) as well as multimedia packages and computer games have enormous potential to help children learn and enjoy learning outside of school.

  • Encourage your children to watch/listen to/read/try programs that help them learn and/or motivate them to learn. These can be programs on radio, television and video, as well as articles in newspapers and books and interactive computer programs.

  • Restrict young children’s viewing time of simple entertainment television and movie videos and time spent on computer games. Get agreement with older children on viewing hours and types of programs they will engage in.

  • If you have a computer, show your children how to search for information and explore the Internet.

  • Praise and support media that produce high-quality learning programs for children and youth.

  • Support media outlets that involve children and youth and that produce high quality children’s programming.

  • Give students media production projects, for example, making a video or radio documentary about areas that interest them.

  • Make computers and multimedia equipment available for after-school and community programs.

  • Inform students and parents about media programs worth watching/listening to/reading.

  • Use computers and multimedia technologies to stimulate learning and student’s abilities to talk on-line and search for information of interest.

  • Provide public access to multimedia and computers at libraries and other community meeting points.

  • Encourage media outlets to involve children and youth, for example, give them a page in the newspaper to express their views

  • Donate used computers and other multimedia equipment to schools and youth-serving community groups.

  • Sponsor programs in the media that provide meaningful learning opportunities for children and young people.

  • Fund initiatives that provide public access to computers and multimedia technology in communities and schools.

  • Fund the development, evaluation and dissemination of innovative learning tools.
    Sponsor programs in the media that provide meaningful learning opportunities for children and youth.

  • Recognize that teachers involvement and morale is one of the greatest strengths of the education system. Avoid dissipating their involvement through ill-founded attacks on teachers and their organizations.

  • Do not prescribe new programs without the funding, lead time and training that is required to introduce them successfully. Failure to do so may undermine both the new and existing programs.

  • Build teacher, principal and parent support for new programs and curricula before it is introduced.

Aware of any innovative programs, legislation or initiatives that are relevant to this positive outcome?
This is your chance to let us know!

We are always on the lookout for specific strategies proven to be successful (or showing promise), that illustrate work done in this area. After reading this section of the site, click on the icon below and share your ideas.

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