Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sibling Curriculum

Written today on a message board:

On the "how will I teach the older kids while the younger ones are demanding my attention" issue I'd like to point out something I see happening at our terrific village public school. They're spending a lot of time and energy on activities and programs designed to help kids develop a sense of community, of interdependence, of empathy, to learn the skills of sharing and appreciating each other, of getting to know people who aren't more or less exactly their age and academic level. These are innovative, worthwhile programs like a nursing home outreach program, a community service and outdoor program, a "Roots of Empathy" program that brings a mother and baby into the classroom every week or two for the whole school year, peer recognition, buddy programs between middle schoolers and primary schoolers and so on. Great stuff!

But here's the thing. My kids, of whom there are four spread over a 9-year age-range, have got all this experience, and more, simply by being at home and out and about in the real world with each other. These innovative, holistic, community-minded school-based programs are all just artificial substitutes for family.

At home my kids have garnered copious experience accommodating to the competing needs and the variety of interests and limitations of family members of differing ages and abilities, appreciating the value of relationships that span age-groups and even generations, learning the relationship skills necessary for getting along with the people they love and live with. It's all built into the "sibling curriculum" in a homeschooling family. The "sibling curriculum" is not a complication in homeschooling -- it's an enrichment course, or even a core part of the program, that many schools are eagerly trying to emulate.


  1. I've heard about this "Roots of Empathy" program, and it always struck me as how the schools bringing this in are all impressed with the notion, and yet cannot see how much they sabotage it by age-segregation. Instead of looking to the structure of schools as a problem, we accept it as "the way things are", and then bring in silly little programs to try and "fix" things. Just one more thing I love about homeschooling - my two kids get to be together alot, and aren't forced into separation by school.

  2. it always struck me as how the schools bringing this in are all impressed with the notion, and yet cannot see how much they sabotage it by age-segregation

    It's absolutely true. "Roots" is a great program --- I've seen it in action, and two unschooling moms I know well have participated with their babes here in our local school and thought the whole thing was amazing. But yes, I agree with you ... "Roots" is like using a herbal remedy to treat a side effect brought on by another medication. Why not substitute something different for the drug that's causing the problem in the first place?



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