During my 10 plus years as a Kindergarten teacher and as a Literacy Specialist, I’ve taught countless twins. I started teaching long before I was even thinking of having my own children and always thought that having a twin in my class was a novelty. In those years, I had only taught one twin at a time. The idea at the schools where I taught had always been that it was best for twins to be separated upon starting Kindergarten. I had never given this notion a second thought… until I gave birth to my own set of twins! Now that they were MY children, the decision was becoming a bit more complicated. In order to help other parents struggling with the decision to keep your twins together or to separate them, here are my reflections as both an Early Childhood Educator and as a mom of twins.
Pros and Cons of Separating Your Twins
– Your twins will be able to acclimate to the school setting as individuals and will have the opportunity to form separate friendships and establish individual identities.
-Your twins will get a balance of time together (at home and outside of school) as well as apart.
-It will be more difficult for your twins to compare themselves to each other in terms of academics and skills.
-It will be easier for teachers to get to know your children as individuals and to understand their unique strengths and needs.
-Parents may be less tempted to compare their twins in terms of academic and social progress or to label each twin (ex. “the shy one” or “the artistic one”)
-Parents will have to juggle two sets of classroom expectations, classroom events, field trips, open houses, etc.
-Transition from preschool to Kindergarten may be more difficult being that it will be the twins’ first time being separated as well as the first time in a new school with a new schedule, and a new teacher.
-Some children are less likely to participate or speak without the added comfort of having their twin present.
Tips For Parents Who Separate For Kindergarten:
-Find out if your twins will have time together during the day (like lunch or recess) so that they know that they won’t be separated for too long.
-Ask the teachers if there’s a way for one twin to join the other in class for 30 minutes or so as a reward or for comfort.
-If there are more than two Kindergarten classes, speak to the principal about putting your twins in classes where the teachers collaborate, plan together, and/or have similar philosophies.
Pros and Cons of Keeping Your Twins in the Same Class
-Parents will only have one place to go on Back to School Night, one set of field trips, one set of homework and can volunteer in one classroom but still be with both children.
-Children will have the comfort of being with their twin during the transition from preschool to elementary school.
-Some children will have an easier transition and will be more likely to speak and participate with their twin present in class.
-Children might be seen by teachers and peers as half of a set rather than as two individuals.
-It may be more tempting for teachers and parents to compare the students in terms of progress.
-Twins may constantly compare themselves to each other.
-Certain twins may let a sibling take the lead and speak for him or her if their twin is more outgoing.
-It can be harder to form individual friendships if the twins tend to stick together and to play with only each other.
-Twins may not get enough time apart.
Tips For Parents Who Keep Their Twins in the Same Class
-Find out if there are times during the day or week when the twins can be separated (ex. Small group learning)
-Request that the twins sit separately for any assigned seating during the day.
-Ensure that the teacher gets to know each of your twins as individuals.
-If you have identical twins, make sure to help the teacher develop a quick way to differentiate between your two.
-Encourage your twins to participate in different after school activities.
-Keep a clear line of communication with your children and your teacher to make sure that the twins are being seen and treated as individuals.
Making Your Decision
-Observe your twins in their preschool class or another group setting where there are other children around. Do they seem to function independently or are they emotionally or socially codependent?
-Ask your twins’ preschool teacher what his or her opinion is about how the twins function together and separately in the school setting. Does he or she have an opinion on separating for Kindergarten? Take the teacher’s opinion into consideration, but go with your gut. Parents know their children best!
-Make your decision based on YOUR twins and their specific needs and strengths. What is right for your twins may not be what is right for another set of twins.
Remember that whether you keep them together or separate them, your twins will be fine! Children are much more resilient than we realize and there will be ups and downs during the school year for any child- twins and singletons alike! Ask any kindergarten teacher and they will tell you that parents usually have a lot more trouble adjusting to school than their children do!
About the author
Allison Merriman MA, TLC’s San Francisco Associate, is a licensed Literacy Specialist as well as mother to 3.5 year old Evelyn and 1.5 year old twins, Abby and Jack. Her passion has always been working to support young children, beginning as a camp counselor and nanny (to identical twin boys!) and continuing on to become an elementary school teacher and Literacy Specialist, coaching parents and educators on how to best teach children to develop a love for reading, writing and language. You can contact Alli at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about our services in San Francisco.