Caroline is a mother of 4 wonderful kids. She loves travel, writing, psychology, and going on adventures with her family.
Should I Separate My Twins or Keep Them Together?
One very common debate for both educators and parents of multiples is whether or not twins (or triplets, quads, and same-grade siblings) should be placed in the same classroom at school or separated. Both choices have their positives and negatives, and of course all children are different, but does one decision generally have a better outcome?
As a mother of identical twin girls, I wanted to make sure whatever decision I made for them would be the best. Unfortunately, there was no simple answer.
5 Pros of Keeping Twins Together in School
- Convenience. Having one teacher to deal with for both children is certainly less work than keeping up with two.
- Teamwork. If one child misses school, the other can help keep them up to date on assignments. Since one of my twins has some medical issues and frequently has to leave early for appointments, this was one of my top reasons for considering keeping my girls together.
- Closeness. Twin bonds are unlike anything else. My twins are closer than anyone else I know and practically read each other's minds. I was very worried that separating them would affect the special bond they share, and I've heard similar concerns from many other parents of multiples.
- Company. Same-grade siblings also have a built-in buddy, and separating any siblings who are used to being together all day can feel uncomfortable. This was my other biggest pro for keeping them together.
- Equality. Another reason some parents decide to keep their children in the same class is the fear that one will have a nicer teacher, or make more friends, or have a generally better school experience. Jealousy over school could certainly spread to other areas of the sibling relationship, and keeping them together avoids that possibility.
5 Pros of Separating Twins in School
- Independence. Although twin (and other sibling or multiple) bonds are wonderful, some become too dependent on each other.
- Socializing. I often noticed that when taking my girls to places with other children, they mostly stayed together and had very little interest in interacting with others. They are a bit shy around strangers, so having a built-in BFF made it very unmotivating to talk to new people. Separate classes give both kids a chance to make new friends. This was my biggest reason for considering having them separated.
- Space. You know how people often say it's a bad idea to work with your spouse? It's sometimes nice to have time away from all your family, no matter how much you love them. Having separate classes gives twins a chance to get a break from each other. They still have weekends, school breaks, and every day after school to be together. Just like in relationships, sometimes space can be healthy.
- Individuality. A common complaint from many siblings, and especially multiples, is always being seen as a unit. Having their own teacher and classmates gives twins a chance to develop unique parts of their personalities. Their teacher will also be more likely to see them as an individual instead of "the twins."
- Avoid Comparisons. Different teachers will also help prevent comparison. If one child catches on to something more quickly or needs extra help, it will be easier for them to be focused on as an individual. One twin being labeled "the smart twin" or "the shy twin" could be very damaging to both.
My daughters started pre-school at a very small school with only one class per age group, so they were automatically together for the first two years of their schooling. They loved school and enjoyed being together, but I noticed that they were very dependent on each other. Their teachers remarked that while they were never mean or exclusive of other kids, they mostly stuck together during all playtimes.
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Since they are identical, some of the kids couldn't tell them apart and often referred to them both as "twins." It didn't bother them, but I wanted them to be able to develop their own identities as they grew. However, I was worried that separating them would harm their bond and I wasn't sure about keeping up with two teachers, especially since I already have two older kids in school. Additionally, one of my girls was a bit shyer than the other, and I worried about how she would do alone.
I talked to several pairs of adult twins and got varying opinions. I asked my daughters how they felt, and they were extremely insistent about wanting to have the same teacher. Normally I try to let my children make as many of their own decisions (within reason) as possible, but I still wanted to be sure that whatever I did was right for them.
When it came time to register my girls for kindergarten, I expressed my concerns to the staff and told them I was leaning towards wanting them to stay together. A few days later their principal called me. She told me that her experience showed that with almost all twins and same grade siblings, being in separate classes was best.
What We Decided to Do
I wasn't happy at first, but we talked it over and decided that they would be in "sister classrooms." Their classrooms are next door to each other. They have different teachers but go to recess and lunch at the same times, which gives them chances to visit each other throughout the day. This has been wonderful for them. They have both become much more confident and outgoing, and the shyer one whom I was more worried about has blossomed. She's a social butterfly now and is constantly planning "parties" and making little pictures for her friends.
Their bond hasn't been affected at all. At home, they are still best friends, and having different experiences during the day gives them things to talk about. One funny thing is that their teachers told me they sometimes go off with their own friend groups at recess and don't even play together. I thought they would be inseparable!
They do have some of the same friends and when one had a minor issue with a boy in her class bullying her, the other stood up for her at recess. Having different teachers hasn't been a big deal either. I asked them to schedule our conferences back-to-back whenever possible so I don't have to make two trips to the school, and they've always been happy to oblige.
In our experience, separate classes but time together at recess and lunch has been amazing for my daughters. If you are a parent of multiples or siblings in the same grade and you are undecided, I strongly suggest trying this if possible. Of course, all children are different, but this has been very positive for us. In parenting, every little win counts.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Caroline Kirby