Learning together, growing as a family

A psychoeducational programme with the focus on positive parenting

Nuria Fuentes-Peláez and Ainoa Mateos, coordinators, Faculty of Education, University of Barcelona

1. Problems

Children’s quality of life and their personal and social adaptation depend, to a large extent, on the quality of the relationships established in their families

According to the European Union Recommendation Rec (2006)19, positive parenting respects children’s rights, since it is based on parents’ concern for the wellbeing and healthy development of their children. At the same time, the recommendation recognises the need for programmes to support parents in the exercise of positive parenting, backed by evidence-based professional resources.

Against this background, the year 2011 saw the launch of the psychoeducational programme “Learning together, growing as a family” within the CaixaProinfància framework programme of ”la Caixa” Foundation. The programme’s aim is to develop a harmonious family environment by promoting positive relationships between parents and children (aged 6 to 12 years).

2. Proposal

The educational process must be developed from the perspective of positive parenting: this is the principle that inspires the programme

The programme consists of eight modules that are delivered over 16 two-hour sessions. It is designed as an educational experience with three differentiated types of sessions: those aimed solely at parents, those aimed at the children, and those that bring together the whole family.

The programme objectives are as follows:

  1. Strengthen emotional bonds
  2. Encourage educational family relationships
  3. Develop family communication and organisation skills
  4. Foster relationships with the child’s school
  5. Promote shared leisure activities
  6. Provide resources to support the positive management of conflicts

3. Results

Evaluation of the six editions of the programme held to date confirms that it has been extremely effective in promoting positive changes, among parents and children alike

Participation in the programme grew from 1,270 beneficiaries in the 2011-2012 academic year to 3,648 in the 2016-2017 academic year (via the CaixaProinfància network, other collaborating organisations and the centres of the Department of Education of the Canary Islands Government).

In particular, assessments of the 2016/2017 edition confirm its impact on family relations. The sessions have enabled work to be done on different aspects, with special emphasis on improving parenting skills and family development.

As an example of the positive changes seen, a programme facilitator recalls: “One girl took a cut-out figure of a superhero to class. On it she had written: “This is my mom”. This little girl had done the workshop with us. Here we had a child who previously would not even say “I love you” to her mother; the fact that, following the workshop, she considers her mother to be a hero indicates that the evolution has been very positive” (discussion group, Valencia 2017).