why having twins is different from having two kids

My boys are in all-day kindergarten. When my daughter started all-day kindergarten two years ago, I was shocked to discover that there is a substantial amount of homework for all-day kindergarteners.

Now I’m even more overwhelmed, because:

  • I have a 2nd grader and TWO kindergarteners
  • My husband works 2nd shift and isn’t around to help with homework/dinner/bedtime
  • My kindergarteners have regular homework, remedial letter recognition homework (parenting FAIL) and speech therapy homework
  • I also have a 3-year-old bopping around

You can find an example of how this works out for me here.

In my real life I’m getting this “totally baffled” vibe from people who are puzzled by my difficulties in helping my three older kids with their homework. Because they have three kids, but their kids manage to do their homework and know their letters, etc. So what’s the difference?

I’m probably preaching to the choir here.

When the boys were babies, their twinniness was a liability. Then for a while it was an asset — they entertained each other and didn’t fight much. They were wild, but I have a great appreciation for the built-in playmate factor. Where school is concerned, we’re moving back into the “liability” area.

They are in the same class because they feel more secure and confident when they’re within eye shot of one another, but I thought this would also make it easier for me to help with homework. WRONG. We can’t do homework at the same time because they shout out their answers, so the one who is slower to answer doesn’t have to think about it. Also, one of our boys (G) is insecure about his knowledge and performance compared with his brother’s, so he’ll often get upset and cry, insisting he doesn’t know how to do the work. I’m not sure where this dynamic has come from, although it’s not the first time we’ve seen it — but G requires careful handling to keep his confidence up. P is quick to answer, and enthusiastic about schoolwork. G knows just as much, but has some warped view where he doesn’t know anything, and P and their other classmates know everything already.

So, each boy’s assignments — reading, letter recognition, and speech — have to be completed at different times, and mostly out of the sight and hearing of the other. And my 2nd grader requires quite a bit of hand-holding for her work, as well. My dreams of the children all quietly ensconced at the table, with me working on dinner and coming in to help here or there, have been dashed for now. This is one way in which having twins continues to be a little more complicated than having two kids of different ages, and I really hadn’t anticipated this one.

Jen is a work-from-home mom of 6-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 3 and 8. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine, where she examines the finer points of potty training failure.

13 thoughts on “why having twins is different from having two kids

  1. Have you thought about whether you can have a high schooler come over to help at homework/mealtimes? That way she or he (maybe a boy might be good?) could help G or P and you could help the other boy (and your daughter). Plus he can play with them while you prepare dinner and do clean up? In fact said high schooler could eat dinner with you and show the kids proper table manners? Just a thought.

  2. Yikes, yes, that does sound challenging! Though I think separating them for homework is a wise decision (and perhaps the only option!). I hate that kindergarteners have any homework at all — that stinks! Not looking forward to the homework thing with my girls in a few years….

  3. Ignore the negative vibe…those people have NO idea what your situation is like. (I have an inkling…but even though I have five kids, none are twins, and I’ve always thought that multiples raise parents above the rest of us, to the level of Super Heroes…)

    This too shall pass!

  4. I still can’t believe the amount of homework they have! Bailey is in full day too but has NOTHING! EVER! We read at night and do worksheets I ASKED the teacher to give me b/c she likes to do that kind of work while I make dinner and she likes to “teach” Parker and Gray… but I still can’t believe it’s required of them!!! You have your hands so so so full! Hang in there!

  5. That sounds really stressful! I agree with Kristin about the whole homework in kindergarten business but that doesn’t really help you now. Is there any way that your boys can do their homework together but work on two different assignments?

    If it really gets to be too much for you and your less confident son, you may have to talk to the teacher about dialing the homework back. After all, it is supposed to be helping but if it is just causing you grief, I’d skip it altogether. After all, your kids will have many more years to be doing homework.

    Good luck!

  6. I had no idea helping with homework could be so involved! I once asked my parents for help in 11th grade, but they’d forgotten all their calculus, so that didn’t work.

    My husband’s enrolled in a couple of community college classes at the moment, so we’ve started having “homework” time – an hour or so where Daddy does homework, I read books related to my job, and the girls draw or do puzzles. Perhaps this will be a benefit in the long run!

    Hang in there. I wonder how my aunt-in-law home-schooled her triplets… I know she taught them simultaneously.

  7. Unfortunately, I have nothing to offer, other than to say that I think you’re doing the right thing by separating them. In preschool, we have homework sent home every Thursday (thank goodness the teacher gives us the weekend to finish it). I initially put all four of my girls at our adorable IKEA table, picturing how wonderful our homework routine would be. As you said, someone always shouted out the answers and never gave the others a turn. So I have to do it one by one. Depending on the assignment and how my daughters are grasping the lesson it can take more than an hour to complete… a little mind-boggling for preschool. Like you, my husband works second shift, so it’s all me for the nightly routine. Overwhelming to say the least. I wish you much luck!

  8. Thank you. If one more person tells me how their 2 kids are like having twins I will scream. Loud. Loud enough to be heard over her 2 kids and my twins. Having 2 kids is NOT the same as having twins. I don’t care how close they are in age. Homework is a perfect example. And it is making me crazy. Non twin parents don’t get it. And they won’t.

  9. Wow – my twins are 2 so I really haven’t thought about homework for them yet, but I do know that when they do “class” (they like to pretend they go to school like their big sis) one always shouts out the answer before the other does. I get frustrated because I know that the other knows it, it just takes her an extra few seconds to respond. I guess I’ll deal with it when it comes but ugh – separate homework times – that stinks. But I know from my older DH that she likes me to be there to help/keep her company.

  10. My g/g twins are just shy of 2 years, so we haven’t had this particular problem yet, but do I ever know what you mean by the “baffled” vibe from other parents! I get it all. the. time, and it makes me feel like crap, or that I’m just not trying hard enough.

  11. I am so glad I found your blog! I have 4-year-old twins and I just began homeschooling them for their preschool year. Day two, and I’m already googling about homeschooling twins :) I have been so encouraged after only reading three posts. Not because you always have the answers, but because I feel less alone and crazy – haha! Thanks :)

  12. I guess I’ve been teaching ESL so long, my pedagogy is tainted, but I don’t see anything wrong with collaborative learning. Sometimes, I ask one twin to read the math problem/paragraph to the other, and then switch for the next problem/paragraph. This way I can monitor them while I’m cooking. I also make them explain the answer if one gets it quickly and the other one doesn’t.
    Because of the difference in skill levels between your twins, this may not be an option, but keep your mind open to homework that they can accomplish as a pair. Our education system prizes individual work, but it’s not too early for students to learn group work, too.

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