If you’d asked me my opinion on this issue before I actually had twins, I would have strongly argued that twins should be separated and only very recently, as the reality of my fraternal girls starting school next September gets ever closer, has my viewpoint softened. We are in the irritating situation that our local, lovely village school, which should I have had a singleton, they would certainly be attending, is only one form entry. This means there is only one class per year group.
One Class or Two?
If we choose to send Jessica and Emily there, they will be together until at least age 11. Our alternative is another well regarded school a short drive away which is significantly bigger and will allow the girls to have separate classes. After visiting these and a few others, I’d really hoped to get a gut reaction but I just didn’t. Both were excellent schools but in different ways. So the decision is going to need to come down to how strongly we feel about separating the girls.
After talking to some other twin parents, it seems I may be in the minority in hoping for separate classes. Some parents feel so passionately the other way that they fight for the right to keep their twins together. In my years as only teacher and not mother, I have to admit I found this absurd. However now, I’m starting to see the benefits to both sides especially for their first year as they settle into school.
If you are undecided or in a similar situation regarding schools like us, I’ve put together some points to consider to hopefully help with your decision.
Keeping Twins Together
A Single Timetable – All the important dates for your diary will coincide. You may even be able to help out on trips or school events knowing you’ll only need to do it once.
Homework – Both children will likely receive identical homework unless there is a big gap in their abilities. Hopefully with two sets of ears listening to the instructions, you may even be able to figure out what they learnt and what they need to do.
Fair Experience – Having the same teacher means you know they are getting the same educational experience and learning the same strategies.
Supportive – They will be able to support and encourage each other every day.
Co-dependance – Depending on your twins, one or both may come to rely heavily on the other for emotional support. Only you know whether this is likely with your pair.
Less opportunity for Individuality – Like it or not, twins will be seen as twins. This is more so for identical and similar looking twins. As a teacher, I was conscious to give twins separate times to shine but in those early few months, when I struggled to tell them apart, it made getting to know them as individuals so much harder.
Less opportunity to make their own special friends – Making friends is tricky for any new school starter but with twins there is the extra dynamic of either trying to include or exclude your sibling into friendship circles. They may end up with just a group of friends who see them as the twins.
Just like everyone else – In separate classes, they will only be compared with their peers and for the first time will be just like the rest of their classmates.
Separate Interest – Given different stimulus and experiences, twins separate interests may flourish. Different teachers will each have their own strengths and passions which will rub off on them.
Their Own Friends – Without their twin to consider, natural friendships with like minded and similar children should develop.
Independence – Having some time away from their twin may be beneficial for some. If there is tension or competition at home, allowing time apart during the school day could help them to develop some independence and may even strengthen their bond.
Separate Timetables – Don’t underestimate the extra juggling that will be involved with separating. Trips, theme days and assemblies will all fall on different days. It is not lazy to want to simplify your life.
Homework – As much as teachers try to keep consistent between classes in the same year, this isn’t always possible. Lessons may be sequenced differently and your twins may end up learning about different things each week.
Unfair Experiences – There will always be something that one has done that the other hasn’t. This could be great for teaching that we don’t all get the same but if you have twins who tend to get jealous, this could be a daily battle.
Missing Out – They could have a ready made support and it’s not there. They will need to go it alone when they could have their twin with them.
I taught three sets of twins in my teaching career. The schools I worked in had no policy regarding twins and defaulted to the parents for the final decision. This is not the case in many school with stories of strict separation policies causing lots of anxiety and stress for parents of multiples.
In my cases, I believe two of the three sets functioned perfectly fine together but would probably have done so if separated too. The final set were kept together year after year at their parents request and really would have benefited for being separated. They gravitated towards each other at every opportunity. Friends were kept at arms length and they struggled when they weren’t right next to each other.
If you feel you are being forced either way due to a school’s blanket policy, TAMBA offer lots of resources to support you as you approach the school. There are template letters and advice. Although I disagree with a blanket policy regarding twin placement, I also feel some parent’s I’ve encountered are stubbornly resistant to separation even further into their primary education and where separate classes may benefit one or both on an emotional or social level.
Time to Decide
With the school application deadline date looming, we will need to make a decision soon. I’m pretty sure we’ll go with the local school and I really can see lots of benefits of them being together. Yet it makes me sad that they won’t have the chance to choose some time apart. Maybe not now but in a few years time. Hopefully, they’ll get great teachers who will nurture them separately and bring out their best.
It’s reassuring to read that whatever we decide, they are likely to reach their own potential regardless.
“A study from Goldsmiths, University of London, finds no strong evidence that putting twins into different classes at school is better for them academically.”
You can read the full BBC article published earlier this year HERE.
Most importantly, I just want them to be happy. Have you decided to keep your twins together or separate?