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Practical Homeschooling® :

Help Your Siblings Succeed

By Kristin Hamerski
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #66, 2005.

How to help your siblings succeed.
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Kristin Lee Hamerski

Kirstin with Erik after he won the Alaska All Star Beau title
My little brother, Erik, and I waited anxiously in the large auditorium for the Alaska All Star Kids crowning moment. When it felt like we couldn't wait one moment longer we finally heard, "And the new Alaska All Star Beau is... Erik Hamerski!"

Erik was thrilled to get a banner of his own after seeing me, his sister, earn several pageant banners over the years. Besides winning the banner, he also received a trophy that was half as tall as he is, as well as some stunning medallions and ribbons.

While all of these awards were truly wonderful, Erik told me that the best part was just being in the pageant and having me teach him everything he needed to know. We worked hard on learning how to model different outfits as well as answering on-stage questions. Erik did very well at both, and when he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up he said in a very matter of fact manner, "I want to be a fireman!" When asked why, he replied simply, "Because I want to put out fires." His answers were very to the point, but also very heartfelt, as he has always wanted to have a career that helps people.

In my experience siblings always want to follow in the footsteps of their brother or sister, especially an older brother or sister. How truly important it is to not only be a good role model! I'd like to encourage you to go even beyond that and actually assist a sibling in your area(s) of expertise.

Erik singing with Sunshine Generation at Kids Day.
Obviously, not everyone will have done pageants, but the principle of helping to teach a sibling is universal. For example, I know a homeschool family that has a great many children. Each of the children works very hard to help the others, in school, in sports, and in competitions. Each of the children is very supportive of the others, an extremely important ingredient towards success in anything. It really comes down to putting competition between each other aside and focus on helping everyone achieve to the highest point of their potential.

Whether you can play an instrument, play a sport, or teach some other skill or school subject, the best way to pass on success is by simply spending time with your sibling(s) supporting them. I have helped to teach my homeschooled brother, and have found that I have learned so much myself in return. Of course I am always pleased to see my brother learning more and understanding his school work better, but I have also gained the happiness that only comes when you see the success of a sibling and know that their drive to achieve was helped by your encouragement.

If you take the time to really help your sibling in any way you can you will not only help them succeed, but help yourself succeed as well. In addition, by helping your sibling(s) you will also assist your parents, which I know they will greatly appreciate.

Erik making a pageant appearance with some members of the Shriners in Anchorage
Education, hard work, and a strong determination are all keys to success, but true success is not possible without love. Showing your siblings that you love them so much that you are willing to spend your time helping them will undoubtedly give them the drive to succeed as well.

I have helped my brother, Erik, learn figure skating. This is a sport I had become quite proficient in when I was younger. Erik aspired to compete in figure skating from a very early age because he had come to so many of my competitions. With this drive he has been able to garner three Special Olympics Alaska Gold Medals. No one ever told Erik that because he had certain disabilities he would not be able to become a good skater. Instead we always encouraged him to put forth his very best effort and now his skills have surpassed even our greatest expectations. This just goes to show that having supportive siblings who are ready to help teach each other can make a world of difference.

Kristin & Erik after Kristin helped coach Erik to his third Special Olympics Gold Medal in Figure Skating
If you have a sibling that has a disability or you have a disability yourself, always focus on the abilities your sibling or you have, not the disability. Everyone has different gifts, but there is one fact that is always true, we all have gifts! Whether your sibling has a disability or not, encouragement, support, and passing on your skills will give your sibling the knowledge that others believe in his or her ability to succeed. Remember the time you spend helping your sibling now will help to deepen your relationship for the rest of your life. God has given you a very special as well as valuable gift in being able to positively impact the life of your sibling.

My brother has followed in my footsteps in many ways. He has been singing and dancing with the Sunshine Generation performance group around the state, just like I did at his age. He has entered our state fair with art and photography projects I have helped him with, winning many statewide ribbons, just as I did when I was his age. Erik even wants to learn how to show dogs, as I did when I was his age. I am proud that my little brother wants to "follow in my footsteps," but I am much prouder that I can help him along the way, wherever his path takes him.

I feel very strongly that siblings are siblings for life. Whether you have brothers or sisters, or maybe both, the key component to a good relationship is to realize that God gave you your sibling for a reason and vice versa. You are meant to be a positive influence in your sibling's life for your entire life, a great responsibility, and an even greater blessing! I hope that each of you will realize the blessing you have in your sibling(s), and hopefully try to pass on some support and encouragement to them everyday... in other words, pass on success to your siblings by showing them the blessing they are to you!

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