The girls are rounding out their kindergarten year. I can’t believe how quickly it all went by! They have learned so much over the last year, and had such a wonderful experience at school. From the time I found out I was pregnant with twins, I always knew I’d keep them together, both at school and at home. I never would have believed I’d be sitting here today advocating putting twins in separate classes at school. But it has worked out so well for us, I just have to share our story with you.
I Never Thought Separate Classes was Fair to Twins
Twins spend the first 9 months of their lives sharing a small space. It only seems natural for them to want to be together all the time. During my teaching career, almost every twin pair I encountered was in the same class at school. When there were twins in separate classes, they always gravitated towards one another on the playground, as if they were each a yin missing her yang.
Twins Have Different Learning Strengths
Just like all kids, twins will have different interests and skills. One of them may even be higher achieving academically than the other. In those cases, it’s definitely a good idea to keep twins in separate classes. The gap in learning is hard to hide when they share a learning space. Of course, parents will do all they can to foster a sibling relationship that is built on love. Even so, when one twin consistently scores higher on tests than her sister, it has to register with them that one is “smarter”. That could be damaging to their relationship and their self-esteem.
From My Experience as a Teacher…
During the 12 years I spent as a classroom teacher, twins were frequently placed in the same classroom. I had an adorable set of twin girls in my first grade classroom one year. They did great in the same classroom, which is one reason why I always planned to keep my own twins together. I saw from a teacher’s perspective how being in the same class wasn’t an issue for a pair of twins. Based on how my students behaved, I was aware that there may be occasional tiffs between twins at school. But don’t all girls have friend troubles every now and then? I was sure that my daughters were just as sweet as these twins, and everything would work out fine for them if I kept them together.
Can You Separate BFFs?
I went back to work right after the twins were born. The girls were in a small daycare, and after that they were in a small preschool class together. After that they went to pre-k, which in our district is a full-day program held at the public school. There was only one pre-k class, so they spent the year learning alongside one another. For the first 5 years of their lives, they were always together.
Towards the end of the year the teacher was helping the principal to fairly place her students in the kindergarten classes. The teacher called me and asked if I would be alright if she put the twins in separate classes for kindergarten. I emphatically told her no, I wanted them together. They were BFFs, I was sure it would break their hearts to separate them! Ever so kindly, the teacher strongly suggested that I consider separate classes. She said they were too clingy, and might have trouble making friends if they didn’t spend some time apart.
My husband thought we should follow the teacher’s advice. As much as I disliked the idea, I hadn’t seen them interacting in class or on the playground so I had to defer to the teacher’s input. So to my disappointment, we separated the girls for kindergarten.
You Just Can’t Compare Sets of Twins!
It wasn’t until well into this year that I realized how much better it was for my twins to be in separate classes. Things came up in conversations with the various school personnel that painted a picture of what my twins were really like in pre-k. My darling girls weren’t naughty, but they did have a hard time being separated for any reason. I’m talking, when one girl went to the restroom the other one bawled if she wasn’t allowed to go in the stall with her sister. Granted, they were only 4 to 5 years old at the time and this kind of behavior is typical at home. But they weren’t able to adjust their behaviors to more school-appropriate ones because, with her twin sister in the room with her, the class felt like home to each of them.
I know our story is not a typical one. And maybe the girls just needed more time to develop socially. Maybe they would have been fine in the same kindergarten class. As it stands, they have thrived in separate classes. They’re both doing well in reading and math. They share some of the same friends and each have a couple friends that they don’t share. As the parent, I know I can ask for them to share a class or to be in separate classes, and you can too. If you find yourself faced with this decision, seek the teacher’s or principal’s advice.