Twins Beginning School – TO Separate or NOT to Separate?

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Posted by vera | Posted in Letters, Parenting, School | Posted on 30-11-2014

separate twins at schoolHere is an interesting letter from a mother of twins. I thought it may be useful to share her letter, and my answers, with our readers. Note: Minor grammar edits have been made for a smoother read.

Dear Vera,

I hope your boys are doing great!

I have questions re: twins & education. I always thought I’d want to keep the girls together, at least for kindergarden. They start JK next September.

I’m starting to change my mind and wanted to know what you think.

Twin A is precocious. She’s super smart, driven to learn, obsessive about doing things right… and loves rules. She’s very social and loves being with other kids.

Twin B is creative, relaxed… does things at her own pace. She has a poor sense of direction and can’t find something, even if it’s right in front of her. She likes playing and having fun with other kids, but isn’t as intense about being with others. She’s happy on her own.

A’s turned into a huge boss and tattletale with B. B can’t move without A telling her she’s doing things wrong. You can’t ask B something without A answering. B tends to repeat herself if she doesn’t think you’ve sufficiently acknowledged her statement – and A will report that “B said something twice, mommy.”

I’m starting the think that B would be better off being in a separate class right off the bat. I think she could use a few hours a day without A breathing down her neck.

Do you think it’s bad to split them right out of the gate?

(Adrienne, mother of twin girls, age 4, and baby, 18 months)

Answer:

Ahhh… to separate or not to separate. A hot topic indeed. Unfortunately, there is no universal “right answer” to this question. Each multiple birth situation is unique, and further, may change from year to year. The best policy is to communicate early, often and openly with the school, maintaining a flexible attitude as new issues emerge and are resolved.

We kept our MZ boys together until Grade 1, but only because Twin B was rather anxious about going to school “alone”. By the end of Grade One, however, they were both ready to go their separate ways, and it’s been quite good for them, for many similar reasons to the ones you mention.

Our boys both had lots of individual time before they started school, so we felt fine about keeping them together for a bit. (For example, for a 3- month period, Twin A took an Art class while Twin B went to church with us each Sunday, and at other times, Twin B went swimming while A stayed home with one parent.)

Are your girls ever apart? If not, they may relish the “separate” time two different classes can offer, but it could also be a tricky transition if it is new to them. Chat with the girls and see what they say.

Multiple Births Canada actually produced a whole resource package for families and schools, about class placement of multiple birth children. One thing to consider — in addition to the positive or negative emotional impact of separation on each co-multiple — is how you will manage different teaching styles, especially around homework (not such an issue in Kindergarten, but perhaps in later years). Although the same curriculum will of course be delivered by each teacher, often, the individual teacher may have different communication style and work expectations than his/her colleague in the same grade. We have found so far that the years we separate them, the benefits for our boys outweigh the “burdens” of things like managing different homework expectations.

Keep an open mind, include the children and the school/teacher in the decision, and revisit each year.

Good luck, and have fun in Kindergarten!

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