Keeping Twins Together or Apart in School

classroom.jpgToday, Jennifer shares six things to consider when deciding whether or not to keep twins (or triplets, or more!) together in school:

As a parent of multiples there comes a time when you are faced with the difficult decision of classroom placement. Should you separate or keep your kids together? We were faced with this dilemma last spring as our twins neared the end of kindergarten. We had always believed in keeping them together and had done so for pre-K and kindergarten. However, as we watched our twins develop during kindergarten we decided to place them in different classes for first grade. Today I wanted to share recommendations on how to negotiate this process:
1. Trust your instincts. You know your children better than anyone. Don't feel pressure from school administrators or others! Remember that what works for one family may or may not work for you. This was key for me. All of the research I had done over the years pointed to the benefits of keeping the twins together. But as we saw our kids grow socially and academically in different ways we felt separation could be positive for them. In the end we went with our instincts instead of the research.

2. Ask for input. If your kids are already together in school, get input from teachers on how things are going. We first started contemplating separation when our kindergarten teacher shared that Liam's response to questions was, "I don't know, ask my sister." This response pattern ended up being short-lived, but still seemed to suggest that it would be good for him to have space to be independent. It can also be helpful to get input from your kids on the subject.

3. Offer some positives when breaking the news. Tears were shed when I broke the news that my kids would spend first grade in different classes. I felt like I was breaking up the band and was sure I would never win mother of the year after that! I recommend being prepared with some positives when you break the news (e.g., they get the best of both worlds with independent time at school and together time at home). Also, in hindsight I would suggest going out for ice cream to break the news. Ice cream makes everything better!

4. Work with the teachers. If you're splitting your kids up, don't be afraid to talk with your children's teachers about any concerns you have about them adjusting to different classes. On the first day of school our teachers made a point of letting our kids check in on one another during the class tours. This helped alleviate their anxiety, and ours too!

5. Let them have their own experiences. Some things (such as competition and sibling rivalry!) will remain a shared experience for twins in different classes, but the reality is that different classes also will mean new and different friends. The day will come when one child is invited to a birthday party and the other isn't; it is perfectly fine. Don't call the parents and ask if they can add one more to the guest list. That's awkward. Your multiples need to have their own experiences too. And mine have always been happy to come home and share their goody bag treats with the other. Good sharing skills are a bonus when you have twins!

6. Feel free to reassess. Whether you decide to keep your twins together or apart this upcoming school year, remember that you can always reassess and change course the next year.

Overall this school year has been a success for us. The kids are slowly talking more about what goes on in their day as they compare notes. They've made new friends and have had new experiences all their own. Right now, we're thinking we will keep them in separate classes next year!

Do you have thoughts on keeping twins apart or together in school? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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