Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

My brother's keeper: How siblings teach one another about the world

Date:
July 9, 2014
Source:
Concordia University
Summary:
While researchers have long known that brothers and sisters teach each other about the world, most of their observations about this have been made in a lab setting. A new study has investigated a step further by observing how children interact in their natural habitat: their homes. Through the study, investigators not only confirmed that teaching occurs naturally and spontaneously, but that both older and younger siblings initiate learning activities. What's more, siblings acting as teachers use a variety of instructional techniques during these informal lessons.

Whether it's how to throw a ball or put together a puzzle, young children learn a lot from their older siblings. While researchers have long known that brothers and sisters teach each other about the world, most of their observations about this have been made in a lab setting.

Related Articles


A new study recently published in the Journal of Cognition and Development by Concordia University education professor Nina Howe takes that investigation a step further by observing how children interact in their natural habitat: their homes.

Through the study, Howe and her colleagues from the Centre for Research in Human Development not only confirm that teaching occurs naturally and spontaneously, but that both older and younger siblings initiate learning activities. What's more, siblings acting as teachers use a variety of instructional techniques during these informal lessons.

To capture the spontaneous interactions between siblings, members of the research team spent six 90-minute sessions in the households of 39 middle-class families in Canada, each with two parents sharing caretaking responsibilities at home. The researchers observed and recorded interactions between two children, ages four and six, in each home.

The children were encouraged to play together, but not given particular instructions. Teaching moments included everything from learning to count, to learning how to rub chalk off a blackboard. Typically the older siblings would launch into a teaching moment unasked, although sometimes the younger child requested instructions.

While Howe says she anticipated observing some teaching, these occasions happened even more frequently than expected. "The extent and what would go on surprised us. While it was sometimes brief, it was sometimes quite extended," she says.

"Something else that surprised us was what was being taught," she adds. "Lab experiments often focus on how-to instruction, such as the steps in building a tower of blocks. That's what we call procedural knowledge, which older children often like to teach."

But in the natural setting, Howe and her colleagues found that younger children are even more likely to ask their older siblings questions related to conceptual knowledge; for instance, how to tell the difference between a circle and a square or how to distinguish the days of the week.

What's the take-home message for mom and dad? Let kids be kids -- and don't butt in. Given the extent and frequency of these sibling-to-sibling teaching activities, Howe suggests that parents should see value in providing uninterrupted playtime between their children. "Give them the time and space to interact together, and have things in the home to promote teaching and learning, both toys and opportunities for kids to be together," she says.

Such uninterrupted time not only takes advantage of the natural sibling bond but also broadens the ways that children learn. "Sometimes people take the point of view that children only learn by being taught directly by adults, but it is evident that they are also learning from each other," says Howe.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Concordia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nina Howe, Sandra Della Porta, Holly Recchia, Allyson Funamoto, Hildy Ross. “This Bird Can't Do It 'cause this Bird Doesn't Swim in Water”: Sibling Teaching during Naturalistic Home Observations in Early Childhood. Journal of Cognition and Development, 2013; 131018115134003 DOI: 10.1080/15248372.2013.848869

Cite This Page:

Concordia University. "My brother's keeper: How siblings teach one another about the world." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709115505.htm>.
Concordia University. (2014, July 9). My brother's keeper: How siblings teach one another about the world. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709115505.htm
Concordia University. "My brother's keeper: How siblings teach one another about the world." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709115505.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins