Examples of illustrations taken from the curriculum designed to work on strategies for regulating negative emotions. The first image shows a "cognitive distraction" strategy and the second a "problem solving" strategy. @UNIGE/RICHARD

Pretend play promotes the development of socio-emotional competences in children aged five and six.

Being socially and emotionally competent from an early age is likely to help children win acceptance by their peers, build better relationships with teachers, and facilitate academic learning. Pretend play is a pedagogical tool that can be used to stimulate a child’s socio-emotional competences. A curriculum based on this approach has been introduced in classes of pupils aged five and six by a research team from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), the Valais University of Teacher Education (HEP/Valais), the Vaud University of Teacher Education (HEP/Vaud) and the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Italy. The study evaluating the effects of the programme, published in the journal British Journal of Psychology, shows that pupils who followed the curriculum increased their emotional recognition capacities and emotional lexicon compared to a control group. The use of pretend play as a teaching tool enables children to acquire emotional skills, with a potential positive effect on their prosocial behaviour and, in the longer term, on their academic success.

Read the press release here.