More than just being reliable playmates, siblings may have the power to encourage healthy childhood development and improved academic achievement in one another, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
For their study, Pennsylvania State University researchers sought to nurture positive sibling relationships and then examine how those relationships affect children’s academic and social performance.
To do that, researchers developed Siblings Are Special, an after-school program for 5th graders with younger siblings who are between 2nd and 4th grades. For 12 weeks, the 5th graders and their siblings attended group sessions weekly and three “family nights,” which included their parents. The trial involved 174 families from 16 schools, both rural and urban, throughout Pennsylvania; half were enrolled in the program.
Researchers found participating children had lower levels of problem internalization and higher self-control, social competence, and academic performance than nonparticipating children.
A version of this article appeared in the August 21, 2013 edition of Education Week as Social-Emotional Learning