Tag Archives: siblings

Who teaches whom?

The importance of play to a young child’s development and learning is a recurrent theme on my blog. Equally so is the recognition of parents as their child’s first and most important teachers. Alongside this is my acknowledgement of the contribution made by my children to my own learning, especially to my understanding of how children learn.

Although I was often reminded that I had declared, “I’ll teach him,” when a younger brother was born, I had never given a great deal of thought to the teacher-role of siblings. How much that had to do with the reminders of my promise only coming when “naughty” things were occurring, I’m not sure.

Whatever the reason for my lack of consideration, I was quite delighted when I came across the post Siblings are a young child’s most influential teacher by Deborah Stewart on Teach Preschool. In this lovely post Deborah provides a wonderful list of lessons learned from siblings, and supports it with beautiful photographic evidence of her three gorgeous grandchildren.

Included in her list are things like learning to:

  • be imaginative
  • trust
  • be brave
  • try new things
  • be kind
  • laugh, and
  • love.

I have a large number of siblings from whom I’m sure I learned many things. As my younger brother could testify, probably not all of them were good. Deborah’s post challenged me to think about what those lessons might have been.

My big sister and me © Norah Colvin

My big sister and me © Norah Colvin


Here are some of the (better) ones I thought of, that weren’t on Deborah’s list:

  • to share, to take turns, and to wait (unless there’s only a few more cookies or lollies on the plate, then you’d better get in quickly before someone else does!)

marshmallow 5

  • that you can’t always be first or win, and
  • that the world doesn’t revolve around you
  • to make our own fun by creating our own games
  • to get along with children of all ages
  • to play without the constant participation or supervision of adults
  • to look out for and look after each other
  • to plan together
  • to forgive and get on with it
  • that a combined effort was more likely to get us an ice cream from the ice cream van than a succession of individual appeals.

Some of these lessons weren’t easy, and some are still in progress, but important life lessons nevertheless.

What about you? Do you have siblings, or are you an only child? If you have siblings, what have you learned from them?

Thank you

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