Family Time: the Family Enrichment Program

What is the value of spending one night a week with one’s family in concerted, collaborative learning? That is a subject that Dr. Wendy Sheffield has spent the last eighteen years studying, with widespread results. Like our professors Dollahite, Carroll, and Willoughby, she is passionate about providing families of all sizes and races the tools that they need to succeed. At the 2015 World Congress of Families. In particular, she talked about a family enrichment curriculum she helped develop that has been applied around the world.
Sheffield, WendyThe Family Enrichment Program is a curriculum developed in 1998 by faculty members of BYU’s School of Social Work, part of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. Because students of that school were and are required to serve families as part of their professional training process,
a search began for a simple tool to help families across a wide variety of cultural and family backgrounds implement an organized system for weekly family interaction. Dr. Sheffield and her colleague Dr. Shirley Cox, as well as many of the students they taught, had grown up having weekly family meetings, and out of the many positive experiences they’d had grew a curriculum that could be used by those students in their field internship program. The curriculum consists of lessons on:

• The Benefits of Holding Weekly Family Night

• How to Organize an Effective Family Night

• How to Hold an Effective Family Night

• Family Togetherness

• Individual Talents Strengthen Our Families

• Playing Together as a Family

• Family Communication

• Problem-Solving and Decision-Making in Families

• Anger Management and Non-Violent Behavior

• Family Work and Responsibilities

• Family Service

• Family Traditions


Since its inception, the Family Enrichment Program has been taught in 47 countries, including Vietnam and Zimbabwe, and translated into 14 languages. Regarding her experience talking about the program at the World Congress, Dr. Sheffield said this: “Participating in the World Congress of Families is a truly wonderful and rewarding experience!  This was the fourth international conference on the family in which I have been invited and privileged to participate.  I am continually uplifted and inspired by the many good people, from all countries and all religious faiths, who work to strengthen families.  I have come to truly love, admire, respect, and appreciate those who work so tirelessly within their own spheres of influence to assist and fortify families.”

Family Enrichment ProgramDr. Sheffield spoke in two separate sessions: the first to an “Emerging Leaders” group — young adults ages 18 to 28— and the second on Wednesday afternoon in a general breakout session about establishing an advocacy program. Its purpose was to encourage and inspire Congress participants to develop and utilize their individual skills and abilities and work to strengthen families within their individual circles of influence. She spoke not only of the Family Enrichment Program, but also about the Staying Alive program, a culturally sensitive, structured, abstinence and family-based HIV/AIDS prevention and life skills education program taught to children and youth ages 9-14, in 14 African countries to over 2 million African children and their families.

The full video of her presentation can be viewed here

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