According to the research paper “Birth Spacing and Sibling Outcomes” by Kasey S. Buckles and Elizabeth L. Munnich of the University of Notre Dame, spacing siblings more than two years apart results in better scores on reading and math tests for the older children. The news is making the rounds of the blogosphere this week since so many parents want to do everything they can so their child can have an advantage.
While the news doesn’t really surprise me, I can’t say the spacing itself is the sole reason for the spike in test scores. I have three kids, each five years apart, unintentionally. They all do very well in school but so do many of their friends, and some of them are only children or siblings spaced close together. I tend to believe that the parent’s educational goals and imposed study habits combined with a child’s natural ability and quality of teachers will largely determine a child’s educational outcome.
In our hyper-driven educational system that often cares more about tests scores than actual learning, I wonder how much it even matters. Still, I have to say there are some definite advantages to spacing siblings widely apart.
Here are my top five:
With each child, I had time alone for them when they were a baby and toddler to focus on them for many hours a day. By the time another baby was born, the baby prior to that was in school, so I happily devoted time each day to playing, teaching, and enjoying the new addition. It was lovely.
Never Diaper Train More Than One Child at a Time
My hat is off to the many moms who pull double duty’ and potty train multiple toddlers at a time. I don’t believe I’d ever have the patience to pull off such a feat.
Stagger Out Tuition
None of our kids will ever be in college when another is, and that realization is huge. I especially recognize this perk since our oldest started college last year.
As your oldest gets more mature each day, he/she can be a big help in watching the younger ones. This privilege should never be abused, of course, but sometimes having your ten-year-old watch her younger siblings so you can finish dinner, help another with homework or take a shower can be purely joyful.
Prolong Having a Baby in the House
By the time my oldest was no longer a baby or toddler anymore, I was pregnant again with another. I was lucky enough to have a baby in our home for many years. Now that it’s over (since my youngest is 8), I can’t explain how much I miss it. Last year when the baby urge hit an all-time high, we adopted an adorable black lab. Coincidence? I think not.
Are your kids spaced widely apart? Would you do it again?
More on planning for a baby: 5 Signs You’re Ready For Another Baby