Think, Feel, Act: Empowering Children in the Middle Years

Middle childhood is a crucial period of growth and change. Staff and volunteers working in before- and after-school settings with children in this age group have an important role to play as mentors, role models and trusted adults. Middle years children thrive in environments that are safe and supportive, and where they feel they are valued contributors and can engage in experiences that are meaningful and relevant to their everyday lives. High-quality after-school programs should be designed to build confidence, improve leadership skills, promote social relationships, reduce stress levels, and enhance physical and emotional well-being.

To support continuous professional learning for those working in after-school settings with children in the middle years, the Ministry of Education invited various subject-matter experts to contribute to a series of briefs that builds on an earlier series for young children, Think, Feel, Act: Lessons from Research about Young Children (2013). We encourage teams to review and reflect upon the following briefs and to work with one another to put the ideas expressed in the briefs into practice.

Photo of children

Environments That Support Engagement and Expression
by Carol Anne Wien

This brief focuses on the importance of creative expression and on ways in which educators can create spaces and contexts where children feel free to generate and explore their own ideas and engage with the world around them.

Photo of educator and children

Each Child Brings a Special Gift: Nurturing Indigenous Identity and Belonging
by Pamela Rose Toulouse

In this brief, the author discusses the importance of the middle years as a critical period of development, and shares ways in which adults working with Indigenous children can strengthen these children's sense of self, belonging and identity.

Photo of a boy

Strengthening Children's Resilience and Mental Health
by Laura Lynne Armstrong

The author of this research brief reviews various strategies that can support and build children's resilience and sense of well-being by encouraging them to cultivate a meaning mindset.

Photo of two girls

The Power of Positive Relationships
by Mary Gordon and Lisa Bayrami

This brief provides a review of research on the impact of relationships on social and emotional well-being, and examines ways educators can establish and maintain positive relationships with children and among children.

Photo of a girl

Pedagogies for Times of Climate Change: Closing the Gap Between Nature and Culture
by Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw and Randa Khattar

This brief invites readers to critically reflect on common views about nature and the environment, and consider new perspectives to foster children's connections with their immediate environment and the world around them.

Photo of an educator and a boy

Cultivating a Francophone Identity in French-Language Before- and After-School Programs
by Paulette Rozon

In this brief, readers can learn more about ways in which after-school programs can create environments and experiences to strengthen children's French-language skills and build a Francophone cultural identity.