Reaching IN...Reaching OUT (RIRO) Program Effectiveness
Training participants report the
skills help young children calm down more easily, feel less upset
about making mistakes and persevere. They also help children empathize more with other children, problem solve more effectively
and follow through better on expected behaviour.
RIRO skills training works
With several years of program development and evaluation under
its belt, RIRO has learned what works when it comes to teaching
skills and promoting "resilient" thinking and coping in adults
and young children. Founded in research and guided by ongoing
evaluation, this section summarizes the research and evaluation
findings that have led to RIRO’s success.
Rooted in research
RIRO was founded in the wide body of research conducted over the
past 30 years at the University of Pennsylvania and other university
centres which shows that our thinking habits and patterns have
a profound impact on our ability to cope with stress, our health
and longevity, happiness and success, and our resilience.
The same research has also shown that our thinking patterns are
not fixed – we can learn to be more resilient by changing
the way we think about adversity and opportunity.
Research at the Penn
Resilience Program (PRP) has primarily focused on the benefits
of fostering resilience in children eight years and older. However,
by eight, most children have already developed a thinking style,
or preferred way of viewing the world. Even children two and three
years old mimic the thinking and coping styles of caregivers around
The RIRO Skills Training program was developed and designed to
influence young children's evolving thinking styles and key abilities
during this important window of opportunity.
RIRO received funding in 2002 (Phase 1) from the Social Development
Partnerships Program (Government of Canada) to adapt and pilot content from the Penn
Resilience Program and see what effect it would have on young
children up to age six years. Child care centres were chosen as test
sites because of the daily contact between Early Childhood Educators
(ECEs) and young children and families.
ECEs in four pilot centres were taught the adult resiliency skills
from the Penn Resiliency Program. After practicing the resiliency
skills in their own lives, they systematically introduced the
skills through role modeling during their daily interactions with
children. ECEs also introduced selected skills directly through
child-friendly activities developed jointly with the RIRO research
team. The skills were used to support children's development of
several critical abilities associated with resilience –
emotional regulation, impulse control, causal analysis, empathy,
self-efficacy, realistic optimism and reaching out to others and
opportunities. For more information about the resiliency abilities,
Formal evaluation through ECE reports revealed that the resiliency
skills training had positive effects on both the children and
staff in childcare centres.
Adult role modeling of the skills was found to be beneficial
for children of any age. Children as young as 3-1/2 years were
able to profit from the child-friendly resiliency activities presented
to them. Most importantly, the children in the pilot centres were
observed using the resiliency skills with their peers.
ECEs also reported benefits for themselves, including reduced
job stress, better adult communication and increased teamwork.
The skills had an overall positive impact on ECE's:
- interactions and relationships with children in their care
- interactions with colleagues, family, friends and acquaintances.
The skills helped them better understand:
- their own feelings, thoughts and behaviour
- children's behaviour
- other adult's behaviour
The skills helped children:
- calm down more easily
- be less upset about making mistakes and more likely to
- follow through better on expected behaviour
- be more empathic with peers
- problem solve more effectively.
View the full report (PDF)
about the pilot project.
RIRO's development and ongoing
Based on the promising results of the pilot study, HRSDC provided
further funding in 2004 (Phase 2) to develop a specialized and flexible
skills training program for ECEs and other child-serving professionals,
as well as curriculum modules for students in college and university
settings. The program was extended to include work with
children from birth to seven years.
More than 350 professionals participated in the development
and formal evaluation of the new RIRO resiliency skills training
program. Post-training follow-up surveys sent out between November
2005 and February 2006 (an average of four months after training)
confirmed the original pilot results. View
Since 2006, two additional projects (Phases 3 & 4) plus ongoing follow-up evaluation of skills training participants several months after the training has repeatedly confirmed previous
findings and shows that this is not a training that 'sits on
- 96% of respondents report using the resiliency skills
- 93% are using the skills at home and elsewhere
- 98% are role modeling the skills with children
- 60% of ECEs have already seen children introduced to
the skills using them with other children after only 3 months.
View summary of ongoing evaluation
Report on RIRO & BBT results
Our report describing Phases 1 to 4 and the follow-up evaluation of the RIRO Resiliency Skills Training Program as well as the BBT Program is now available.
Full report Summary of report