Last week, my pair of three-year-olds started preschool.
Did you hear that heavenly chorus bursting forth from your computer? That’s coming from my house. Five mornings a week, we hit the car drop-off line, and in they go to their bright, beautiful Montessori classrooms. And yes, that’s plural. My three-year-olds are in separate classrooms.
The curriculum is designed as a longitudinal program, so the children stay in the same classroom, with the same teacher, for three years. In large part because of that structure, the expectation is that siblings will be in separate classrooms, twins or otherwise. I was initially a little taken aback, as I had always assumed my kids would stay together in preschool and separate later on. But when I stopped to think about it, and thought about my own kids and how they relate to one another, I really believe that it’s the best thing for them. (And if I hadn’t, I could have found another school, or possibly argued my case.)
My kids are reasonably close, as siblings go, but nowhere near as much as some sets of twins. I don’t say that as a good or bad thing, just as a point of fact. They play well together (until they start fighting, of course), but they don’t mind having time away from one another. They love it when my husband and I split them up for part of the day on the weekends. They were thrilled to move into their own bedrooms.
For my children, I think the separate classrooms work well. My son gets a break from being bossed around by his sister, and won’t be distracted because he’s too busy poking her. My daughter gets to come out of her brother’s more-outgoing shadow, and not spend so much time concerned with what he’s doing (and whether he’s doing it “right”). They get to be known as individuals, instead of always being seen as a unit. Yes, boy/girl twins have it easier in that regard than same-sex (and, especially, identical) twins. But I still think that, when they’re together, even the most well-meaning person can tend to see them as a pair and sometimes treat them as such. Heck, I know I do it, and I’m their mother!
And you know what? Being in separate classrooms does not seem to have phased them in the slightest. Certainly, we talked about it ahead of time, so it wasn’t a surprise when school started. But every day, they have walked their own way with nary a backwards glance. They sometimes find each other on the playground at the end of the morning, but not always. They are happy to see each other at pick-up, and play together all afternoon and all weekend. But I think they might actually like that three hours a day that is, in a sense, their own.
Oh, sure, it presents some logistical challenges for mama. On orientation day, when parents were supposed to stay in the classrooms with their kids, I had to make sure my husband could take the morning off. It makes me a little twitchy that I have gotten to know my son’s teacher better than my daughter’s (yes, seriously, it’s still only a few days into the year, I’ll get over it). The two teachers do things slightly differently, which makes for a few extra things to remember, and minor conflicts when one child brings home drawings whenever they’re done, and the other is supposed to save them for Fridays.
But even just a week and a half into our first school year, I feel confident that having my kids in separate classrooms was the right call for us.
What about you? Are your kids together in school, or separate? If you haven’t hit school age yet, what do you think would work in your twins’ relationship?