“So are you putting your twins in different classes this year?” This is a question I am often asked (right after “are they identical,” and “do twins run in your family?”) Not only friends or other moms of multiples, but strangers on the street want to know my school plans! At birth, I could never imagine a time where I would want them apart. They were preemies, they were perfect together, they NEEDED each other in a way my singleton did not.
As toddlers, I read every article and sought out all opinions on separating twins at school. I was determined to keep them together: kindergarten is so big, the day is so long, my older daughter was slow to adapt to kindergarten, and I just thought they would benefit from each other’s support in the classroom. Fast forward four years: the boys are more different than they are alike, and while both have strong personalities, one is more outgoing and social, the other longs to be included.
This September, my boys will begin their “4s” year at a small, cooperative preschool in separate classrooms. They were together the previous two years, so this will be a new experience for all of us. However, being apart for the 2.5 hour preschool day will give them an opportunity to establish their own skills, likes and dislikes, and friendships, instead of being thought of as a unit by teachers and friends. Things have changed–as a Mom I have grown to appreciate and celebrate their individualness and want them to learn independence in preparation for elementary school. Their elementary school is big and the principal encourages separation of twins.
In the back of my head, I hold this experience as a test for myself–if this experiment truly bombs and both boys are unhappy, then I will fight tooth and nail to put them together for kindergarten. If one boy is unhappy and the other one is fine, which is one of my fears, I don’t know what I will do. Not to mention my fears for the rest of their education and beyond: what if one has a great teacher, and the other has an okay teacher, and they do not receive the same educational opportunities? Ugh.
This was not an easy change of heart, and my stomach still clinches tight when I think about it. I have come to see how my thoughts of them as “brothers who happened to come out at the same time” impacts all aspects of their lives and putting them in different 4s classes and eventually kindergarten follows this path. Is it the right choice? We will have to wait and see.
So, when are you planning to separate your multiples?
Leslie is a freelance writer and mother to an amazing 7 year old girl and two adventurous 4 year old boys who is counting the minutes until school starts.