Wondering if your kids can (or should) handle being together all the time because of homeschooling? Here’s what you need to know about sibling relationships and homeschooling.
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When families are weighing the pros and cons of homeschooling, the idea of time spent together is one that can carry either label. Since the promise of being together all the time can realistically be a good thing or an, ahem, challenging thing, let’s take some time to look at how homeschooling can strengthen sibling relationships.
What to Know About Homeschooling and Sibling Relationships
I often say that togetherness is one of the greatest gifts of homeschooling. I truly appreciate the opportunity to approach education in lots of ways, but the togetherness is the benefit I never expected to love.
That said, my kids are humans along with me and everyone else. That means there have been times when attitudes have been pretty rotten, attention spans have left me frustrated, and all of us would love to have a few minutes to ourselves. So how do we work through all of that, and should we even try?
Here are three things about homeschooling and sibling relationships that I’ve learned along the way.
1. Relationships are part of life.
Does homeschooling guarantee that kids will enjoy spending lots of time together? Nope. Does homeschooling prevent siblings from bickering or straight-up arguing? Also no.
Here’s the thing, we can view all of this time spent together as an obstacle or as an opportunity.
I prefer the latter because preparing kids for the real world outside the walls of our homes involves presenting them with real world challenges. And relationships are an unavoidable part of the real world.
Having our children spend so much time together isn’t something to run away from, but something to welcome.
After all, life is full of relationships that take lots of work. Whether through professors and fellow students, employers, co-workers, clients, neighbors or extended family members, we are all continually required to spend time with others and maintain relationships that are challenging.
Simply put, getting along isn’t optional in the real world. Why not allow your time homeschooling to equip your kids with relational skills that will help them throughout their lives?
2. Age differences don’t have to be an issue.
Societal norms lead us to believe that it’s unlikely that siblings of differing ages and stages can actually get along and even enjoy spending time together. Thankfully homeschooling allows families to create a different normal, one where kids of different ages do life together, learn together, and engage regularly by default.
In my experience, homeschooling has actually allowed my kids to spend time together and build a relationship they’d most likely not have otherwise. Since they have a five-year gap in between them, a different educational environment would have them apart more than they’re together and introduce a disconnect they’ve never experienced while learning at home.
That doesn’t mean every age and stage provides the same natural opportunities for friendships to build and strengthen, but it also doesn’t mean a significant gap in ages is a detriment. Either way, though, age gaps aren’t really a thing unless you make them one.
3. This too shall pass.
Whether it’s due to age differences, personality clashes, or other stressors, there’s no denying that sibling relationships can add new challenges to homeschool life. Even so, kids grow up, personalities shift, and circumstances change.
In other words, most of the difficulties surrounding siblings and how they engage with each other come and go through the months and years.
Keeping that in mind, here are some resources I’ve found helpful when it comes to navigating those seasons with my kiddos.
Raising Boys and Girls Podcast – This podcast offers advice and encouragement for lots of parenting topics. I personally appreciate that it’s a mix of faith-based and psychology-based content.
- The Five Love Languages for Children – I share this particular book because it’s helpful for us as parents to understand what our kids need from us. After all, how we parent 100% shapes how we homeschool. (Check out The Five Love Languages for Teens if you’ve got tweens and teens.)
Worth mentioning, some folks don’t love this series, but the actual love languages themselves are worth exploring. You can always focus on the love language chapters and skip the rest.
Sibling Relationships and Personality
While I acknowledge that personality labels should be held loosely in the formative years, I also recommend digging into books on various personality typing tools. These can be useful for identifying personality-related triggers, preferences, and tendencies our children and teens display.
When we’re aware of these preferences, tendencies, and triggers, we can plan our homeschool days accordingly and avoid potentially explosive sibling interactions. In fact, this knowledge can help us plan our days in a way that promotes peace and (dare I say it?) productivity.
- Reading People by Anne Bogel – There’s no shortage of books on the different personality typing frameworks, but this one provides a nice overview of Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, high sensitivity, Enneagram, and more. And, based on what you read here, you can decide where you want to dig deeper into specific frameworks to help your kids individually and relationally.
- Quiet by Susan Cain – If you suspect you have an introverted child or if you’re an introvert yourself, this one is a must-read. It digs into the needs, stressors, strengths of introverts and also has a chapter specifically on introverted kids. (As the mom of one introvert and one extrovert, helping my kids understand when to engage and give one another space goes a long way.)
In closing, remember that all the time our kids spend together through homeschooling is truly a gift. Through the good days, the hard days, and everything in between, our kids learn to navigate sibling relationships in a way that keeps them connected and prepares them for relationships outside the home.