When The Siblings Head To School
Draw up a timetable
If they're really struggling with the idea that their older sibling will be away for six hours each day, you can encourage them to draw up a weekly diary or planner. You can fill the days with all sorts of fun activities to get them excited about the week ahead, rather than dreading the time spent alone. Aim to organise as many exciting excursions in the first few weeks as you can (e.g. to the beach or local animal farm) while they slowly get used to the new arrangement.
Share the work
Not only have they lost their playmate while their sibling is at school, but they'll also have to be patient and wait for them to finish their homework in the afternoon. Some children might even get jealous that mum and dad are focusing so much time on helping their older sibling to learn to read, for example, while they're left behind twiddling their thumbs. The easy solution is to set them some fun homework too! They can laminate their books just like their brother or sister, and can get to work doing some colouring-in, drawing and dot-to-dots. You can find plenty of free worksheets to print off the internet.
Be their new best friend
If there's only one sibling left at home, you might find you have a little shadow over the first few weeks. They'll be clinging to you now that their older brother or sister has left, so join in on the fun and be a spirited, enthusiastic playmate! There are many active games you can play in the hot summer months, like hurdling over the sprinker, aiming with the hose, water bomb fights and sandcastle building at the beach.
Tap into their creative side
Try creative ideas like making things out of play dough or Legos, finger-painting, potato printing, making masks out of paper plates, going on a treasure hunt or having fun with bubbles. Or get educational with counting games or sorting leaves by colour. You could also try very basic cooking like making funny fruit faces.
Meet up with others
If you know other young children in the same situation (perhaps ask around at the older sibling's school), you can team up and organise playdates at the park, playground, beach or pool. Get active and enjoy the fresh air together.
Wet weather can make entertaining the kids hard at the best of times, never mind when you have a gloomy one on your hands! Get them excited about a movie afternoon where they can watch videos of their favourite TV shows (In The Night Garden re-runs, anyone?) and snuggle up on the couch together. They could probably do with an extra cuddle!
Be the stars of the show
You and your youngest child could plan a fun circus act or dancing show that you can perform for their older sibling when they get home from school that afternoon. This should keep them busy while still getting them excited about their big brother or sister's return!