Together

Posted on
Categories Classroom Placement, Difference, Education, Identical, Independence, Older Children, School, School-AgeTags , , , , , Leave a comment

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.

 

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

The Unending Question of Classroom Placement

Posted on
Categories Classroom Placement, Independence, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , , , , Leave a comment

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.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Guest Post: Separating Twins at School by Dr. Nancy Segal

Posted on
Categories Classroom Placement, Difference, Education, Multiple Types, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School, School-Age, Unique needsTags , , , , , , , 7 Comments

Today’s guest post comes from Dr. Nancy Segal, the director of the Twin Studies Center at Cal State, Fullerton.

Nancy L. Segal, Ph.D.
California State University, Fullerton
nsegal@fullerton.edu
drnancysegaltwins.org

The biggest dilemma regarding twins seems to surround the arguments for and against separating them at school. There is no simple answer to this question, but I strongly urge that there be no policy one way or the other. That is, each twin pair should be evaluated separately, taking their particular needs into consideration. I am, therefore, very much against mandatory separation of twins, a policy that is upheld strictly in some school districts.

Some schools maintain that twins will not grow up to be independent individuals if placed in the same room as their twin brother or sister. This is, however, not a research-based practice. It is known that when friends go off to school together for the first time they are more comfortable in their new situation, more interactive with other children and less likely to cling to their teacher. Interestingly, no one worries that two such children might not become separate, independent individuals!

Going to school for the first time can be a little daunting for some children, and forcing twins to separate from their parent and from their twin at the same time may be a lot to ask in some cases. A solution is for teachers to arrange for separate tables within the same classroom so that twins can see each other (that is often the only thing they need!), but develop separate friendships. I once tracked twins during recess and found that while identical were together more often than fraternals they were not together all the time. Often, just a glance at the twin was enough to make them feel relaxed and happy.

Separating Twins at School

We also need to be mindful of twin types. Identical twins are in a very different situation than fraternal same-sex twins who, in turn, are in a different situation from opposite-sex twins. Identical twins may be confused by their classmates and teachers, due to their matched appearance. If identical twins are placed together parents should have them wear different outfits or hair styles, or even wear name tags! It is important that people learn their names and address them as such. Fraternal twins (both same-sex and opposite-sex) will probably not be confused—although some people may forget which name goes with which twin in the case of the same-sex pairs. Same-sex fraternal twins will generally have different interests and abilities and may benefit from separate classrooms in some cases. Male-female twins may benefit from separation for other reasons—little girls mature ahead of little boys socially, intellectually ands physically. Girls in these pairs tend to mother their brothers, behavior that may not always be beneficial for the boys. Above all, however, all decisions regarding school placement for twins should be rendered on a case-by-case basis and evaluated periodically by parents and teachers working together. Young pairs, regardless of twin type, may benefit from being together during the early school years.

A word of additional caution: I have worked on cases of older identical twins who have been falsely accused of cheating on exams and projects because they produce similar scores and essays. If identical twins are in the same classroom, they should never sit together while taking tests!

For more information about all sorts of twin-related subjects, please visit my website at drnancysegaltwins.org.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Classroom Placement: Part I – Separate Classrooms

Posted on
Categories Classroom Placement, Parenting Twins, School-AgeTags , , , , , , , , , 6 Comments

Who knows best whether your multiples should be placed in the same classroom or separated at school? You, right? For our family, separation in kindergarten was the right answer, but it’s different for everyone.

Many educators and school administrators believe that same-age siblings should never be placed in a classroom together. I would argue that there is no one-size-fits-all solution that applies to all multiples. “Never say never,” I say. Like many other parents of multiples, it is my husband and I who know our daughters well enough to make the final decision regarding their classroom placement. Coming to an agreement as co-parents is an altogether different matter, as I’ll talk about next week…

We are fortunate to live in Texas, one of the 12 US states whose laws give parents the right to choose whether our multiples should stay together in public school. Oklahoma and Illinois have resolutions to the same effect. (As I understand it, resolutions involve moral rather than legal support from lawmakers, but I suspect Mommy, Esq. could give us a clearer explanation.) Another 10 states have sponsors for such bills. I wasn’t able to find information on similar laws in other countries, but my research made it clear that neither Canada nor the UK have such protections in place. Readers elsewhere in the world, where does your country stand?

Our daughters were in the same class from infancy until pre-kindergarten. Their preschool had only one class per age group, so we didn’t have the option of separating. There was one disastrous year at a larger program where we could have elected to split them up, but we kept them together there. A new school with Daddy leaving for Korea seemed shakeup enough, and we thought our 2-year-olds would be better off together.

Until relatively recently, I figured we’d keep the girls in the same classroom until they wanted to split up. By all accounts, they were well-adjusted and played with both each other and other classmates. They are horrified at the thought of having separate bedrooms, so I couldn’t imagine they’d consider separate classrooms.

The first time I considered separating J and M early was after talking to a friend. She and her twin sister had gone to college with me. My friend told me that separating them in elementary school was the best thing her parents had done for her. Because both she and her sister were in honours classes and heavily involved in their school music program, they ended up in a lot of same classes in high school by default. Elementary school was their opportunity to make friends as individuals instead of a twin pair, and that was when they grew to be as comfortable as individuals as they were as twins. She and her sister have the sort of relationship I hope my girls will have decades from now. They are close, yet pursue separate interests and have both shared and separate friends. One is married, and the other is not. I spent three years at college with these sisters, and had plenty of opportunities to witness their relationship, and my friend’s opinion carried a lot of weight.

I thought about keeping M and J together in kindergarten and separating them later in elementary school, but by the end of pre-K it was clear to both me and my husband that they should be in separate classrooms. After having been the dominant sister on and off over the years, M was depending increasingly on J. We got reports from school that M was expressing jealousy when J played with other friends. Worst of all, I noticed that M was taking less of an interest in reading independently because, “Sissy’s the good reader.” J, on the other hand, was oblivious to this, and balancing her relationship with M with her separate friendships and activities as she always has.

If this were the girls’ first foray out into the world without us, I might have considered keeping them in a single classroom anyway. After 5 years in daycare, though, they seemed ready to separate. We told the girls several weeks before school started that we would be asking the school to assign them different teachers. Neither of them expressed disappointment, or even surprise. M reported that she was a little sad about missing Sissy early on the first day of school, but their classes shared recess, lunch and PE. J said the best part of the day was seeing Sissy at the bus at the end of the day. Each of our girls introduced the other to her new friends, and they were able to be the bridge between the classes—at least the girls—on the playground.

For us, the choice to separate our girls was the right one. I’m glad it was ours to make. I don’t want an administrator who has never even met them dictating their placement based on preconceptions about multiples. After all, the twin bond is an extraordinary thing, but many who have never witnessed it consider it aberrant. I’ll admit that I held my own stereotypes about twins before M and J were born. I was convinced that fostering their independence and separate identities would be the biggest challenge of raising twins. They soon taught me that twinship was a gift, not a curse.

Have you thought about whether you want your multiples together or apart in school? What factors play into your decision?

What were your preconceptions of twinship before you met your newborns?

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone