Nick Lanyon
January 29, 2018
Camp Updates
Parents
Weekend Activities
Lifestyle

Siblings at School?

We’d like to share a few thoughts on a common conundrum for parents: siblings. Is it a good idea to separate siblings by classroom, by school, or by camp? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks either way? There’s no easy answer for parents faced with these questions. We’re here to help you make an informed decision that’s best for your family.

First, let’s talk about a common myth: sending siblings to different schools will help them develop self-reliance and individuality. While this may be work for some children, it is far from a universal truth. In her article on Psychology Today,  Mary C Lamia Ph.D. notes that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that sending siblings to different schools will promote their intellectual or social development. In fact, some children benefit from attending the same school as their sibling.

In her research on primary-school-aged twins, Dr. Limia points to studies that suggest twins attending the same school “maintain the emotional and intellectual resources that allow them to thrive.” One study found that non-separated twins in Grade 2 scored higher on language skills than those who had been separated; a second study found that reading scores were higher in non-separated twins; a third found that behaviour problems, as rated by teachers and mothers, were less prominent in seven-year-old twins attending the same school. Dr. Lamia posits that sending siblings, and especially twins, to separate schools can be a source of anxiety that actually distracts children from their scholastic and social endeavours. Rather than physically separating them by school, Dr. Lima suggests that the best way to foster self-reliance and individuality in siblings is to focus on them as individuals rather than as a unit.

A sibling attending the same school can be a source of comfort for some children. In her column for The Guardian, historian Nell Darby recalls feeling a sense of security while attending the same elementary as her older sister. Research suggests that siblings can provide shy children a “sense of ‘protection’ in a school environment.” In hindsight, Darby values the way in which attending the same elementary school brought her closer to her sister: “Giving siblings a shared experience bonds them, even if they don’t realize it at the time.”

Every child copes with the pressures of school differently, and some will thrive away from their siblings. Despite her childhood experience, Nell Darby opted to send her children to different schools. However, Darby notes that this was “their choice, and suited their very different personalities.” Dr. Limia emphasizes the importance of trusting parental instincts when making this kind of decision: “An arbitrary policy about what is ‘right’ for children should inform, but never undermine, what a parent feels is in their best interest.” In other words, never forget that you know your kids best!

At Laurus Summer Camp, we’ve seen it all in terms of sibling interaction. Some younger children benefit enormously from just seeing their older brother or sister on the field at lunch; some opt to join a younger or older age group in order to remain with their sibling; siblings that share a room or have different interests might cherish a little time apart. It’s a different scenario for every family, and camp is a great setting to experiment with what works well for your kids in terms of sibling interaction.

We hope this helpful! If you have any thoughts on the matter, be sure to send us an email—we’d love to hear from you.

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