Classroom Placement: An Update

When I told you that my twin daughters were now in separate grades, many of you provided very thoughtful, thought-provoking responses.

The bulk of the opinions were on the side of keeping M and J at the same grade level, rather than having J skip 75% of kindergarten and 25% of first grade to become a 5-year-old in first grade, while her twin sister M stayed in her kindergarten class.

I can’t say I disagree with any of the arguments, although we decided as a couple to skip J up.

Yesterday, J made an offhand comment that M doesn’t enjoy reading, and my husband decided it was time to take her down a peg. After I reminded J that it was M who had recommended The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales to her, Daddy told J that she was no better a reader than M was. In fact, there were hardly any skills at which any one of them was significantly more adept at than the other. M was unsurprised by this announcement, but J was visibly deflated. I think she’s better for her ego having been somewhat shrunk, but time will tell.

M woke this morning to tell me that she had had a bad dream. She had dreamed that she had to leave her kindergarten teacher to go to first grade. I told her that this was something that would eventually come to pass, and reminded her that her past teachers had, for the most part, remained in our lives after she left their classrooms.

Many of the moms who commented on our decision to move J to first grade noted that, while supporting the individuality of children is key, being a multiple is a real and tangible part of our kids’ lives. To ignore that fact is to ignore a key component of their self-image. It’s interesting that my mother-in-law and I made that same argument when we were trying to come to decision. My husband and father-in-law were on the other side of that. Could there be a gender component at play here? Are MoMs and FoMs basically different in their outlook? How would your male partners vote?

As it happens, we ran into M’s kindergarten teacher, her beloved Mrs. K, at a birthday party over the weekend. Mrs. K’s daughter is in J’s first grade class, so our mommy circles overlap. M was giddy at the sight of her teacher and firmly attached herself to Mrs. K’s leg while we talked. In the midst of smalltalk, Mrs. K told me that M wasn’t getting the benefit of interacting with peers to encourage her reading; she will be joining J’s first-grade class during reading time. She has made leaps and bounds in her time management, both at home and in the classroom, and her confidence has shot up. If she stayed on the this trajectory, Mrs. K said, she would be recommending that M also move to first grade in 9 weeks’ time. While Mrs. K can find work to challenge her, she believes that she would benefit from having peers who challenge her too. J’s first grade class is already at the state-mandated maximum of 22 students, so they would most likely not be in the same classroom.

Does the possibility of M now going through school on the same schedule as her sister change your opinions about the wisdom of having J bypass kindergarten?

To the teachers out there, is kindergarten any less critical a year to children who have attended structured pre-K programs, or does pre-K simply give them a better chance for kindergarten success?

When not pondering parenting decisions, Sadia and her husband work from home as a geek and on base as a soldier, respectively. With their identical daughters, J and M, they are exploring life in El Paso after having been Austin-area suburbanites for the majority of their relationship.

7 thoughts on “Classroom Placement: An Update

  1. hey!! :)
    I’m Alex, I’m a freshman in high school, and I have an identical twin sister named Kath. Kath and I hated being twins for years and years and years, and it is only in the last year or so that we have come to terms with it. She’s my best friend and I’m hers. We now accept that although we are extremely different and strive to make people realise that, we are also both very much the same.
    One of the greatest things about being twins is that we’re on the same level. We’re the same age, we’re at the same level academically and socially…
    what if she was hanging out with older kids?? And doing things older kids did?? Would she mature faster? ?
    and the most horrifying question… would I start to be viewed as the ‘younger’ one??
    I have to be honest- I can NOT imagine what it would be like if we were at different grade levels, but I’m pretty sure it would be somewhere close to awful.
    My parents did have the chance to move my sister up a grade, but were convinced that we were both as intelligent as the other, and so didn’t. They were right.
    Now for the other option- if she were in a grade below me. Ok- confessions. I think I would, secretly in my mind, start thinking of her as a bit ‘inferior’. When your a kid and teenager one year can make so much of a difference!! The guys just one year above you seem SO much older and they seem to be doing so much harder work!!
    Thanks for reading this, and I hope I’ve given you some insight on what it’s like for an identical twin going through school with her sister.!!

  2. No, as a kindergarten teacher, I just wouldn’t. I have no idea what your girls reading levels are like or what their other skills are across the board, but I just feel really strongly about kindergarten for all of the other areas – social skills and building basic life knowledge. However, one thing did cross my mind after I posted, El Paso does serve a very different population than what I teach and that may play a role. In my class I frequently have several kids start the school year already reading at what is considered an average end of first grade or beginning second grade level, so I am used to having those kids in the same group as a few kids who know only a few letters and cannot write their name.

  3. My husband says he wouldn’t let one child go a higher grade than the other. The story is very interesting Sadia. I wish your girls all the best whatever happens, if M moves up or if she doesn’t.

  4. My husband also said he wouldn’t separate our twins into different grades. I’m excited for M that she’s going to move up too. Since your girls are clearly so similar in their abilities, it seems good for them to be on the same level at school.

    Still, I wouldn’t move my kids up a grade. My older 3 have summer birthdays so I kept them home and had them start kindergarten at 6. Even with my kids being among the oldest in their classes, I am regularly appalled at the words and concepts and situations they’re exposed to. The way we looked at it, an extra year at home carried no risk of harm and great potential benefits, for the next two decades.

    I think a good preschool or Pre K program could probably teach the social skills learned in kindergarten, and an advanced kid might learn the academic concepts taught on her own. But the age and maturity of the child would be my big concern.

    From my own experience, my oldest has a June birthday and is very advanced. She started kindergarten at age 6. She is 14 months older than many of the kids in her grade, and 16-17 months older than the ones whose parents applied for their early entrance. But she is among the shortest 3-5 kids in her entire grade and deals with a lot of kids picking her up, just because they’re bigger and they can. She doesn’t like it. I can’t imagine what it would be like if she were with even older kids.

    Also, my ex-husband, who was very smart, was advanced a grade in elementary school. By 9th grade he was suffering from extreme anxiety because the other kids were maturing physically and emotionally, and the age gap was becoming more obvious. He had to be pulled from school for the rest of the year, then rejoined his original class the following fall.

    Just my experiences, though. I’m excited for your girls!

  5. Sadia,
    just read all the posts regarding your girls’ school placement. It’s very interesting and well written. I also enjoyed all the insightful comments people have left.

    I’m so torn over my kids entering school and frequently think about it. Our oldest will start kindergarden next fall (at 5 1/2). Our twins’ birthday is August 29th .. Our girl will be ready when the time comes but it seems very unlikely that her brother will catch up in maturity by then. I hate the thought of having to separate them (for all the reasons people have mentioned), I also hate to have him start and then feel overwhelmed for the next 12 years. I’m leaning now to keep them both home for an extra year .. but I still have 2 years to decide and lots can happen in that time.

  6. I am also in the same predicament with my twins. My son Matt is going to second grade, but his brother Michael has to kept back. Their previous school decided that and i feel that I should hold Matt back so they can be in the same grade. My question is, should I tell the new school this issue or should I have told their previous school about the issue of holding back Matthew so they can both be in the same grade?

  7. Pingback: From the Archives: Back to School | How Do You Do It?

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