1, 2, 3, Emoció! - Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) programme in elementary schools

At a glance

Country of origin

  • Spain

Last reviewed:

Age group
0-5 years
Target group
Elementary School children
Programme setting(s)

Level(s) of intervention

  • Universal prevention

The 1, 2, 3, Emoció! intervention is a school-based emotional education program designed by the Public Health Agency of Barcelona that aims to promote health and prevent future risk behaviours by enhancing emotional competencies in children aged 3 to 5 years old. It is an adaptation of the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning program, developed in the United Kingdom. The 1, 2, 3, Emoció! programme works on the five emotional competencies described by Bisquerra et al. in 2003: emotional conscience, emotional regulation, emotional autonomy, social competency and life skills and well-being.



Contact details

Servei de Salut Comunitària
Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona
Pl. Lesseps, 1
Telèfon: 93 292 14 15
Email: prevencio.escola[at]aspb.cat

Overview of results from the European studies

Evidence rating

  • Possibly beneficial
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Studies overview

Pericas and colleagues (2022) evaluated this intervention in a stratified RCT using a sample of 2625 in a total of 37 schools in Barcelona (Intervention Group: 1291, 17 schools; Control Group: 1334, 20 schools). The researchers used a linear multilevel regression model with repeated measures (beginning and end of school year). Individual student scores on emotional competence were nested at school-level that in turn were stratified by type of school and neighbourhood socio-economic status. The newly designed Emotional Competence Assessment Questionnaire (ECAQ) was validated (Bartroli et al. 2022) and used to register (teacher registration) the level of emotional competencies of each child.

In boys, the mean change in the scores for Preschool year 3 (P3) was 24.51 points for those in the Intervention Group and 13.77 for those in the Control Group. In girls, the mean change in the scores for P3 was 24.40 points for those in the Intervention Group and 13.83 for those in the Control Group. Generally, a negative gradient was observed, as the change became smaller as the school year became higher, suggesting that the intervention may be more effective in the first year of pre-school.

San Pio and colleagues (2023) analysed the outcomes with nested linear regression models in a sample of 1586 children in 35 Barcelona schools. Considering sociodemographic variables and implementation outcomes, they compared 3 groups in the same data: 1) participated in 1, 2, 3, Emoció! during the three years of preschool: P3, P4, and P5, (= Complete Programme: CP); 2) participated in the programme for only one year (P5, Partial Programme - PP); and 3) did not participate in the programme (Comparison - C). The measured emotional competence level increased significantly after one year (4.1 in boys; 5.6 in girls; P < 0.05) and after three years of intervention (5.5 in boys; 8.0 in girls; P < 0.01), compared to comparison group. The level of emotional competence was the highest for the 3-year intervention group: obtaining an average ECAQ score of 131.1 (95% CI 126.9e135.2) for boys and 141 (95% CI 137.2-144.9) for girls. Completing the programme with high fidelity increased the level of emotional competence at the end of the school year by 20.5 points (95%CI: 15.9-25) for boys and 24.3 points (95%CI: 18.7-29.9) for girls, in comparison to 4.6 (95% CI: 1.5e7.7) and 5.9 (95% CI: 3.1-8.7) points for boys and girls, respectively, who receive the programme with low fidelity.

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Countries where evaluated

  • Spain


Protective factor(s) addressed

  • Individual and peers: skills for social interaction
  • Individual and peers: prosocial behaviour
  • Individual and peers: positive self-concept and self-efficacy

Risk factor(s) addressed

  • Individual and peers: impulsiveness

Outcomes targeted

  • Emotion regulation, coping, resilience

Description of programme

Promoting emotional competence or Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) has shown to improve the emotional well-being of children and young adults and prevent mental health issues and high-risk behaviours. Studies found positive effects when socio-emotional skills and attitudes are further developed at young age: emotional well-being increased, academic skills, and social relationships improved and emotional stress, substance use, police arrests, risky sexual behaviour, and presence of psychiatric symptomatology decreased (individual studies can be consulted in San Pio, 2023). Preschool age from 3 to 5 years is postulated as an ideal time to initiate the development of emotional competence.

The five emotional competencies are addressed cross-sectionally through six thematic units: 1) belonging, 2) self-esteem, 3) friendship, 4) challenges, 5) justice and harassment and 6) changes, loss and death. The program includes 48 classroom activities, six family activities and 12 activities to be done in the school environment outside the classroom for each school year. The program is implemented by teachers throughout the school year, after completion of a specific 20-hour course.

Implementation Experiences

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