Friday, February 29, 2008

Sibling Relationships — by Sister Sara

Five years ago, as summer was approaching, I was concerned with some of the one-on-one relationships my children had with each other. My biggest concern was that my oldest (8 going on 9 at the time) and my five-year-old had NO friendship. They often bickered and fought.

So I came up with a plan based on the well-known thought "you love those you serve" and created a schedule for my children to serve each other. It worked so well we have done it every summer since.

This is how it works: every child is paired with every sibling every morning. The combos over the years have included activities like:
-11-year-old daughter and 10-year-old-daughter write and produce a play (including script, costumes and sets).
-10-year-old daughter and 5-year-old-daughter make up dances together.
-5-year-old-son reads an easy reader to 7-year-old daughter.
-7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old-son play jump rope, hopscotch, basketball or soccer.
-5-year-old son and 4-year-old-daughter color a picture together.

As my kids have grown we have continued the tradition and the activities mature as my children do. This is what we did last summer:

-13-year-old daughter and 12-year-old-daughter prepared dinner each morning (including a weekly menu and shopping list). They did all the prep work they could in the morning, together, then one of them did the actual cooking each evening.
-13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old-son played board games each day.
-13-year-old daughter read Alice and Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia to my 9-year-old-daughter.
-12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old-son practiced timetable flash cards.
-12-year-old daughter taught 9-year-old-daughter piano basics.
-9-year-old-daughter practiced her reading with my 10-year-old son.

The kids love this part of the day — and thankfully, they love each other. I will continue to do this as long as I can. I feel like this is one of the best things I’ve done for my children.

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Blogger April ~ Living the Sweet Life said...

Oh Sara I am so glad to hear someone else has this as a goal for their children. I found myself in the same situation and have on and off tried service type activities for my 3 children. I am glad to see it from your perspective with activities that will allow the children to bond and have fun. I am going to focus our service in a fun way that is more like yours. Thanks for this post,

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 11:31:00 AM EST  
Blogger Kris said...

What a beautiful idea. My kiddos are all under four years right now, but I think we'll give it a go. Thanks for the great post.

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 11:41:00 AM EST  
Blogger k8theriver said...

my sister and i didn't get along growing up and i'm afraid that's how it will be for my daughters. i hope to remember this when they are a bit older. such a great idea.

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 11:53:00 AM EST  
Blogger Macy said...

Such a fantastic idea. I need to think about how I will adapt it for our family, but it is a great idea.

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 12:14:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jenny said...

This is a wonderful idea. I have a question about logistics - do the kids pair off with a different sibling each morning or do they spent time with each sibling every morning?

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 12:22:00 PM EST  
Anonymous maya said...

that's a wonderful idea! i'm saving that for later...

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 12:24:00 PM EST  
Blogger kristin said...

wow this is a great idea .. i have a soon to be 15 year old and a 2 and 4 year old. any suggestions on such a larger gap?? thank you

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 12:37:00 PM EST  
Anonymous brandy said...

Wow, good idea! My kids are still small too, but this would be a great idea to keep them connected as they get older.

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 12:52:00 PM EST  
Blogger Lizzy said...

i really love this idea. for now, i have two little ones, but they already fight like crazy. i'll be implementing something similar for sure.

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 1:55:00 PM EST  
Anonymous robin k said...

Awesome, Sara.

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 2:58:00 PM EST  
Blogger michelle said...

I love this idea! Any more info would be SO appreciated... I agree with Jenny's questions... how do you schedule this? And do the children pair up on their own or do you assign them?

I'm loving sisters week!

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 4:51:00 PM EST  
Blogger Tiffany said...

This is so great. I think we will be implementing this idea around here this summer-maybe even before! Like Jenny & Michelle, I also would love more info on the scheduling.

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 5:00:00 PM EST  
Blogger Peg said...

Sara, I'll say it again, you are brilliant! Thanks for the great ideas.

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 5:02:00 PM EST  
Blogger Sarah said...

FABULOUS idea! I am absolutely storing this in my brain for future usage. The kiddos are currently 2 1/2 and 1, so they're a little young as of yet.

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 5:14:00 PM EST  
Blogger Lisa & Jeremy said...

My kids would LOVE this. They get along really well but would love the added one-on-one time with each other and the organized fun. Thanks!! We'll do it.

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 8:42:00 PM EST  
Blogger Cruze said...

That is brilliant! I have been wondering what on earth we are going to do all summer. Now I know.

Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 1:52:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Sara said...


Each morning (M-F) the kids have specific things that have to happen before they can go play with friends. For Ruth I will ask all these questions:

Did you make your bed?
Did you clean the bathroom?
Did you read with Lucy?
Did you play basketball with Ike?
What do you and Zella have planned for dinner?
Did you practice the piano?

Each child has an assignment with every other child every morning. It just becomes part of the summer routine.


So far I have always assigned the activities. My children are getting older and have done this enough years that I may give them some room to help me decide this year.


As I choose an activity, I always consider the ages of the two kids involved. What kinds of things they could/should be doing anyway (like reading or flashcards).

The kids I was most concerned about have always had light activites: like playing a board game each day. This helped them laugh together and there was no pressure (my kids are really good sports) when one lost to the other.

I hope this helps.

Sunday, March 2, 2008 at 9:42:00 AM EST  
Blogger heather said...

What a wonderful idea!! Thanks for sharing this!!

Monday, March 3, 2008 at 3:09:00 AM EST  

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