RIRO Programme Effectiveness

With decades of research guided programme development and evaluation under its belt, Reaching IN...Reaching OUTOM  (RIRO) has learned what works when it comes to teaching skills and promoting "resilient" thinking and coping in adults and young children. This section summarizes the research and evaluation findings that have supported RIRO’s success. Since 2002, nearly 10,000 child care and early learning staff and service providers have attended RIRO Resiliency Skills Training.

Rooted in Research

RIRO was created based on findings from a research conducted for more than 30 years at the University of Pennsylvania  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.1

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.2

Researchers at the Penn Resilience Program (PRP) have 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. Children two and three years old have been found to mimic the thinking and coping styles of caregivers around them.3

The RIRO Resiliency Skills Training Programme was developed and designed to influence the evolving thinking styles and key abilities of young children (age 0 - 8 years of age) during this important window of opportunity.


Girl and educator playing together on the floor

Pilot Project Results

RIRO was founded through a project and funding put forth by the Social Development Partnerships Program (Government of Canada) in 2002, to adapt and pilot content from the Penn Resilience Program and determine what effect it would have when applied in context with young children up to age six years. Child care centres were chosen as test sites because of the daily contact between early learning and care professionals, young children, and families.

Child care and early learning staff in four pilot child care 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. Child care and early learning staff 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 abilities4 associated with resilience – emotional regulation, impulse control, causal analysis, empathy, self-efficacy, realistic optimism and reaching out to others and opportunities. 

Evaluation collect through child care and early learning staff's reports revealed that the resiliency skills training had positive effects on both the children and staff in child care 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.

Child care and early learning staff also reported benefits for themselves, including reduced job stress, better adult communication and increased teamwork.

The skills had an overall positive impact on early learning and care staff's:

  • interactions and relationships with children in their care
  • interactions with colleagues, family, friends and acquaintances.

The skills helped child care and early learning staff to better understand:

  • their own feelings, thoughts and behavior
  • children's behavior
  • other adult's behavior.

The skills helped children:

  • calm down more easily
  • be less upset about making mistakes and more likely to persevere
  • follow through better on expected behavior
  • be more empathic with peers
  • problem solve more effectively.


Young child checking on another that is sad

RIRO's Development and Evaluation

Based on the promising results of the pilot study, the Social Development Partnership Program - Government of Canada, provided further funding to formally develop a specialized and flexible resiliency skills training programme for child care and early learning staff and other service professionals (now known as RIRO Resiliency Skills Training Programme). The programme was extended to include work with children from birth to seven years. In 2003 -2006 more than 350 professionals participated in the development and evaluation of the RIRO Resiliency Skills Training Programme. 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. 

Starting in 2006, additional phases of both project development and research were conducted (including the development of the Trainer Intensive Programme in 2006, and Bounce Back & Thrive in 2010).  Ongoing follow-up evaluation of RIRO Resiliency Skills Training Programme from participants several months after the skills training was completed, repeatedly confirmed previous findings, including:

  • 96% of respondents reported using the resiliency skills at work
  • 93% were using the skills at home and elsewhere
  • 98% were role modeling the skills with children
  • 60% of the early learning and care staff had already seen children introduced to the skills using them with other children after only 3 months.

To request reports on RIRO's findings that spanned over multiple phases of research and evaluation please email RIRO@wellington.ca 

Reivich, K., & Shatté, A.J. (2002). The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life's Hurdles. New York: Broadway Books

Reivich, K. &  Shatté, A.J. (2002). The Resilience Factor. New York: Broadway Books; Seligman, M.E.P. (1991). Learned Optimism. New York: Pocket Books; 

3Seligman, M. E. P., Reivich, K., Jaycox, L., and Gillham, J. (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York: Harper Perennial.

4Reivich, K., & Shatté, A.J. (2002). The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life's Hurdles. New York: Broadway Books

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