At the beginning of this school year, I couldn't imagine what our school time was going to look like. For the first time, I was educating three of our kids (!), and had two toddlers thrown in the mix. (!!) What on earth was I supposed to do with the little girls while the older three did schoolwork? How was I going to be available to the older three for teaching and questions when the little girls would be right there, demanding so much of my attention?

For this year, at least, we made the decision to school our boys (K and 1st grade) only three days a week. They do some school on the other two days as well-- Bible, memory work, and either picture study, classical music or poetry-- for our Circle Time at the table. But for the two days they're not doing schoolwork when we dismiss for breakfast and after they're done with their chores, they each get assigned a buddy (in the form of one of their little sisters) and they are excused to go play with them.

For instance: yesterday was Tuesday, and Isaac (7) was assigned to Audra (1) and Isaias (5) was assigned to Adelia (2). Isaac and Audra played in the playroom together for awhile, and then ended up on the living room couch, reading stories. Isaias and Adelia made a fort together, played dress-up, and did who-knows-what-else but managed to get nearly every single toy we own out in the process. :) On Thursday they will switch buddies.

When I came up with this idea in September, I thought this would buy me about 20 minutes of time, but 20 minutes has grown into nearly an hour, some days. I encourage the boys to choose separate rooms to play in with their buddies (otherwise the boys will end up playing together and the girls will get into all kinds of mischief) and often after about 30 minutes I will put a video on for all four of them to watch together. This has been a wonderful addition to our days, for various reasons:

1) It gives the boys the responsibility of taking care of their little sisters, usually doing something they might not personally prefer, but doing it out of love and honor for their little buddy.

2) It gives Ella some uninterrupted school time at the table, without the girls squeezing in next to her at the table and trying to color on her paper or just distracting her with their noise!

3) It gives me the freedom to be close to Ella~ available to teach and help and answer her questions. I stay nearby and usually clean the kitchen or do dinner prep, or I sit at the table with her and do paperwork of my own.

4) It has created a sweet rapport with the boys and their little sisters. Adelia and Audra *love* it when they get to pair up with one of their brothers-- it makes them feel very special to have such kind attention from their big brothers. And for the boys, too- they stand a little taller when they realize that it is their responsibility to take care of one of the girls for awhile. It has bonded the big boys to the little girls in ways I hadn't anticipated. They are much closer because of it, and I'm so thankful to see it.

Of course there are interruptions, and often Isaac will come upstairs to tell me a lengthy, descriptive rendition of what cute thing Audra just did and I have to gently remind him that he ought to go see what she's doing at the moment, since he is responsible for her, afterall. :) Sometimes I have to step in for correction or to remind the kids to stay in their rooms or suggest another activity for them, but all in all it has been a grand success, and I'm grateful for it.


  1. That is a great idea - so glad it is working out so well!

  2. Lovely. We've been learning how to do this, although I have to say that my boys haven't taken quite the shine to it that yours have. But you give me hope.

  3. What a great idea.....love helping my kids build their sibling relationships!

  4. What a marvelous idea. I can see my family adopting this very soon...

  5. I love hearing about how your big boys have enjoyed their little charges! Sweet!
    rebecca m


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