The Family School

Isä ja poika istuttamassa puuta


Aim of intervention: The aim of the intervention is to support and instruct parents who struggle with the behavior of their children aged 3-6 years. Intervention strengthens parenting skills and increases understanding of the child’s behavior. The intervention also aims to strengthen positive interactions between parent and child and to support the child in controlling their behavior and conduct.

Description of intervention: The Family school is a group-based intervention for child families, who display behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity, oppositional defiant behavior, aggressiveness or impulsiveness. Theoretical foundation for the Family School lies on cognitive behavioral therapy (Salmi 2008, 22–23). The groups gather weekly for 10 weeks. In the intervention, peer groups are founded for both parents and children (5 families / group). These are supervised by a professional or a student in the fields of education or social and healthcare, who have received the Family School training. The children’s groups are supervised by a child minder and a Family School expert. Additionally, each child has their own Family School instructor (Palomäki 2003, 27–28.). The intervention is conducted according to a guidebook developed for the intervention and each peer group meeting is instructed and structured around a specific theme. (Salmi 2008, 22–23). Certain parts of the intervention have been applied in instructing primary and secondary school children, and as a working method in the fields of education, social and healthcare.

Availability of intervention in Finland: A professional or a student of education, social or healthcare can be trained as a Family School instructor. The training is provided by the Suomen Lastenhoitoyhdistys (Barnavårdsföreningen i Finland).

The Family School is based on the rehabilitation working model (Pre-school Overactivity Programme) developed by the child psychiatrists Joanne Barton and Seija Sandberg. The Family School intervention, which is developed in Finland, is provided by the ADHD center of the Finnish Child Minder Association in the capital region. Adaptations of Family Schools intervention have been delivered for instance by the church, various organizations and social and healthcare systems.

Research- and evidence-based efficacy of intervention: There is neither existing peer-reviewed national research on the Family School nor research-based evidence of efficacy.

  • Literature:
    Palomäki, E. (2003). Ryhmämuotoisen lyhytintervention vaikutus leikki-ikäisten lasten käyttäytymisvaikeuksiin, Perhekoulu POP (Preschool Overactivity Programme). Helsingin Yliopisto. Psykologian laitos. Lisensiaatintutkimus.
  • Salmi, E-L. (2008). The Family school. The impact of a group training programme on overactive hard-to-manage preschool children and their parents. Åbo Akademi University Press.