Educators in elementary schools across the country are developing ways to promote interaction between students in upper grades and students in lower grades. In these partner programs, the children interact in a variety of ways, from doing good deeds for each other and attending assemblies together to encouraging and teaching one another. Teachers are finding that when big kids teach little kids, the cooperative projects benefit both the older child, who gets a boost of self-esteem as a role model, and the younger one, who enjoys and is motivated by the special relationship.
On the home front, it's often a challenge to encourage play between older and younger siblings. Because of developmental differences between most siblings, it is often difficult to provide safe and enjoyable activities that a toddler, for example, can enjoy with big brother or sister. Yet, it's always a pleasure for parents when they observe their children cooperating and learning from one another. Here are some ideas you may want to try:
* When your 5-year-old is finger painting, your toddler can enjoy a simple "messless" version. Pour finger paint into a large plastic bag with a zipper-type closure. Close the bag tightly and supervise your child as he or she makes designs with the paint by pressing on the plastic bag.