The second in an occasional series about some of the under-recognized benefits of homeschooling.
I lead a creative writing workshop for homeschooled kids, and two of its members are sisters. It's pretty endearing to see the way they cheer each other on, support each other's work, and just generally adore each other. When one brings a story to share, her sister's eyes light up. When the story is read, there is enthusiastic applause. The love goes both ways.
In a culture where rivalry and discord are assumed inevitabilities of the sibling relationship, what I've described might seem like an anomaly. It's not an anomaly among homeschooling families. Siblings that grow up homeschooled are often close, supportive friends. Instead of spending the majority of their days apart from each other, in separate classrooms, and sometimes even separate schools, they truly grow up working, playing, and solving problems together. They bond.
I've seen the closeness my own kids developed as young children carry on into adolescence and adulthood. Much of this has to do with the time they're able to spend together, but there are probably other factors involved. There's no peer pressure from schoolmates telling them it's uncool to spend time with a little brother or sister. Homeschoolers are not regularly judged and evaluated by education professionals, and hence are less likely to look outside themselves for validation and compare themselves to their siblings. A homeschooling lifestyle is simply less stressful for kids, and less stress means more peace and joy in any family.
Does all this mean jealousy, bickering, and spats are nonexistent? Of course not. Homeschooling isn't utopian, but it is a lifestyle that allows siblings to really know and appreciate each other, warts and all. Disagreements are opportunities to work through issues, and doing that successfully teaches tolerance and deepens relationships.