Homeschooling Chronicles - Sibling Bonding

When siblings homeschool together, the bonding really begins.

By Kristen Kindoll

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home school

One of the biggest surprises our family had when we started homeschooling, was the sibling bonding that occurred. I had feared the worst, but was pleasantly surprised. I found out that siblings can get along. This may seem obvious to some people (the ones who don't have kids who squabble), but for me, this was a revelation. Peace in the household is a wonderful gift.

When we first began to homeschool, other parents would tell me how much they admired me for staying at home with my children. I appreciated their compliments, but wondered why they were offering me this type of praise. What did they know that I didn't know? These people would often lean over conspiratorially and whisper, “You know, children . . . they’ll fight a lot.”

Watching my kids, I started to wonder if these well-meaning people were right. Was I in denial? Would we have a household filled with fighting and unpleasantness? I decided to take a good look at the interaction between my children. And behold, they truly got along. At first, I accepted this fact with relief, and no questioning. But eventually, the teacher inside of me wanted to know why. Why did they get along? Even my experience with my own siblings was fraught with discord. 

I began to detect subtle differences between my children and traditionally schooled children. For example, homeschooled siblings are together all day and consequently, they have to learn to be flexible. They share learning, but since they are usually at different academic levels, they learn how to take turns waiting for help. Also, they adapt to having their lessons taught to more than one grade level. Sometimes, asking a sibling for an explanation or help is a better choice than waiting for the parent.

The mere fact that siblings are homeschooled creates sibling bonds. Brothers and sisters can try to explain homeschooling to inquisitive peers and neighbors, but the explanation process is challenging. Since homeschooling is outside of society's norm, it is difficult for outsiders to comprehend. Siblings bond over their shared experiences, which are usually not explainable to others. Together they laugh about the questions they are asked, and joke or complain about their teacher.

One of the most interesting things I noticed about homeschooled siblings, is their ability to relate to people of varying ages. When I was growing up, there was an understood demarcation between myself and my younger sister and brother. In my mind, they were babies, while I was the top banana. I didn’t want to associate with them for fear of being ridiculed. These self-imposed age divisions began to dissolve in high school and eventually went away. But the idea of age divisions is foreign to homeschooling children. They learn and socialize with a variety of age groups. Their homeschooled friends have the same arrangement. Therefore, they have no need, or even desire, to disassociate from one another. Everyone works and plays together.  An older sibling thinks nothing of carrying a baby brother or sister as they go for a walk with a peer. Similarly, it is not unusual for a fourth grader to consider a second grader to be his best friend. This carries over to home. Age is not the deciding factor for sibling relationships.

The most humbling realization was that my children may not have had much of a relationship if they weren't being homeschooled. There is a large difference in the ages of my children. In school, the age difference creates natural separation. Most often, they would not be at the same campus. They would also be apart eight hours daily, which would further divide them. By schooling together, they are experiencing a deeper sibling bond than I think they would have if they attended a traditional school.

Home School Lesson Plans:

Getting Along With Others

Children evaluate their own behavior, learn ways to get along with others, then develop a plan to improve their behavior to help them get along better with others.

Sibling Rivalry

Students analyze how birth order affects sibling rivalry, personality development, and family relationships.

Conflict Resolution

Students participapte in discussions and complete activities that help them acquire important conflict - resolution skills.