Together

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I’ve made an informed decision. My daughters will be in the same classroom for second grade.

I solicited opinions from the people who know best what the classroom dynamic is between my identical twins, their teachers and counselors. Not only are all four of them thoughtful educators who know my daughters very well, one of the teachers is herself a twin and one of the counselors is a mom of twin boys.

While the general approach was that separation was often good for twins in general, no one seemed to have serious concerns about J and M being disruptive, distracted or under-performing should they be in the same classroom. M’s teacher clearly leaned towards encouraging apart time, but her concerns were general rather than specific. I was looking for reasons to reject my daughter’ preference. After all, I’m trying to teach them to make good decisions for themselves and dealing with the consequences of the bad ones. Their father didn’t care either way whether they are in the same classroom next year.

The only people with extremely strong opinions were M and J themselves, and they want to be together. I’ve asked them over and over whether they still want this, and they’re not budging, not even while in the middle of heated arguments with each other.

The feedback that I was going to weigh the heaviest was that from J’s classroom teacher. He teaches the girls separately for math and together for language arts. I do have to say that I feel for him. During Reading and Writing Workshop, he has not only my identical twin daughters, but another set of identical twin girls too! He says he calls someone the wrong name just about every day, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have trouble telling his students apart. I still sometimes call my daughter M by my sister’s name. They look, sound, and behave nothing alike. The only commonality is that they both let me kiss them on the nose.

But I digress.

Here’s what J’s teacher said: “I really think they will do great either way you decide. In second grade they wouldn’t see as much of each other as they do now if they are put in separate classes, so that is one thing to consider.”

I did consider that. As Dr. Segal mentioned in her post, just a glance at a twin to know she’s okay can help a child focus in class. My daughters have friends in common, but they have different best friends. They play together, but they’re as often apart as together at recess. They don’t feel the need to dress alike and have made their mark at school both as individuals and as sisters. I suspect that M and J know exactly what they need to be successful.

To round out the perspectives I got, here’s what M’s teacher had to say:

I appreciate you taking my opinion in consideration.
J and M are doing extremely well in separate classrooms. I think they need to learn to be apart from each other for longer periods of time. Granted they are in separate classrooms, they spend half of the day together during Writing and Reading workshop due to the nature of the Dual Language Program.
I can tell you from being a twin myself that being apart from my sister was very beneficial for us. We learned to speak up by ourselves whereas when we were together one or the other always spoke up for both. Being by ourselves taught us to be individuals.
I see it as the best of both worlds….time together and time apart!
Thank you!
And from the counselor the girls are closest to:
Since they are already in dual language together and are in class together part of the day, I think the teachers would be most helpful in letting you know how that works. During group with me, I noticed that they finish each other’s sentences/interrupt each other and are a little sillier when together, which is typical of sisters.  That makes me wonder if that would happen in class if together. On the other hand, they are also very helpful to each other and get along very well. Since I had them in a small group, I think their behavior is probably different in a large classroom setting. I would lean towards suggesting they be in separate classes, especially since they have dual language together part of the day. But I am comfortable supporting whatever decision you make.
This time next year, we’ll be making this decision all over again. It’s a new decision every time.

 

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The Unending Question of Classroom Placement

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I hereby declare that it will be high school before the matter of classroom placement will be resolved for my daughters. It’s now been three times that I thought things were settled, and it’s up in the air again.

Right now, my first graders in separate, but co-taught dual language classrooms. They’re apart for most of the school day, but together for language arts and recess. They have the same teacher for math and science, although they’re taught at different times. They sit at adjacent tables during lunch. They reunite immediately after school at post-school daycare and, once a  week, at group piano lessons.

On Friday, the first graders at my daughters’ school went on a field trip to the Texas State Museum and park. When I asked about their day, M went on for a good 30 minutes without pause about the NASA-related exhibit. She’s been fascinated by Neil Armstrong for years. J also told me about the great time she’d had.

Then both girls told me how much they’d missed each other. They’d made their way through the museum in classroom groups instead of as a single group, and didn’t get to see each other except briefly at the park. Even though their classes had occupied the same bus, they weren’t partnered up to sit together.

“Mommy, can we be together in second grade?” M asked me.
“Please?” J added.

I tried to understand how strongly they felt about this request, and they held firm.

I sent off an email to the girls’ teachers and counselors to get their opinions:

J and M told me this morning that they would like to be placed in the same classroom for second grade. While my preference has been to keep them in separate classrooms during elementary school for a number of reasons, I do think that they’re old and mature enough to have a say in the matter. I’m not yet sure if this was a fleeting response to missing each other during the field trip yesterday or is a considered request.
I was wondering if you could tell me how you feel about M and J being placed in the same classroom. Do you have any particular concerns about this prospect for next year? I’d like to make sure I have all your opinions before I determine how serious the girls are and make a request one way or the other.

As I have in the past, I’ll let you know where we end up.

Sadia and her identical twin daughters M and J live in the Austin, TX area. Sadia is a single working mom. J and M will be 7 years old next month.

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The Soda Culture

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The first graders at my daughters’ school took a field trip to see Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. I’m all for field trips. If this one got kids excited about Dr. Seuss and reading, so much the better.

There was one thing about the field trip announcement that bothered me, though. The movie snack pack would include popcorn, soda and a treat.

This note describes a school field trip to see The Lorax.

Am I alone in the universe in thinking that giving 5- to 7-year-old children soda to drink crosses a line? The popcorn, and even the candy, don’t bother me much. We eat both these things at home, in moderation. Adding soda to that, though, seemed like too much. All the more astonishing to me was that my girls weren’t even offered water, even though I’d jotted a note on both their permission slips requesting water for them. At lunch, too, they told me that they were only offered sodas.

J and M’s first exposure to sugary sodas was soon after we moved to El Paso. They were given it at daycare. They then stopped going to daycare, and fast. Once they’d had a taste, I didn’t think that forbidding sugary drinks would accomplish the goal of good decision-making. Instead, we struck a deal. When I drank soda, they could drink soda. This has been keeping us all honest. We limit ourselves to a sweet drink, other than juice or milk, once a month, just as we limit chocolate and other candy to once or twice a week.

Obviously, kids drinking soda is part of the culture here, but is it any surprise that we have an obesity problem? How can I encourage the kids to choose healthy options when their peers often don’t?

How do you go about bucking trends or local culture when you want your kids to choose differently?

Sadia, her husband, and their twin 5-year-old daughters, M and J, are still learning about the culture of the Borderlands, following a move to El Paso from Central Texas in August 2011.

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