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Parents of twins face a tough decision about their children. Should they be together in the same class or separated into different classes? There is no clear-cut answer, as every set of twins is different, and the “right” choice may vary from year to year.
Often parents are forced into a decision by school system policies. If you are trying to decide the best option for your twins, consider these reasons to keep twins together in the same class.
1. Ensures Consistency
Even before birth, twins are together in the same environment. Then they spend the first few years of their lives together, surrounded by the same people, sharing their environment and surroundings, and living the same experiences. It is simply what they expect and is accustomed to.
With the same teacher and classmates, they enjoy a consistent education experience, learning the same thing at the same time.
2. Fulfills Classroom Limitations
Sometimes there is only one class option per age group. Often this is the case in small private schools, or perhaps in a preschool or kindergarten setting. For half-day programs, there may be a single morning class and another afternoon class. In situations like these, it simply makes sense for parents to place their twins together in the same class.
Sometimes there is a compelling reason to separate them, in which case parents will have to seek other options. Some may even consider placing them in different schools or programs. But if that’s not the case, let the situation determine the choice.
3. Makes Life More Convenient
All parents want what’s best for their children, and sometimes what is best for the kids must be based on what is best for the family as a whole. With two or more children in the same grade at the same time, sometimes convenience is the best reason to keep twins together in the same class, with one set of assignments, tests, and teachers to keep up with.
It’s not an issue of being selfish, or lazy. Rather, it is a matter of choosing a situation that affords the best management of family logistics. Don’t downplay or deny the importance of parental convenience or feel that you’re taking the easy way out.
Parenting twins is difficult enough and if keeping them in the same class meets their needs and yours, then it is the right choice.
4. Allows for Support
The relationship between twins is complicated. As individuals, they may look similar, yet their personalities are very different. Where one is stronger, the other may be weaker. They may alternate between relying on and resisting each other. Sometimes, especially when they are younger, one may simply need the other.
In the absence of one, the other may flounder. In many cases, this dynamic will change and evolve as the twins develop and mature as individuals.3 But in making a decision about classroom placement for the near or immediate future, it’s a factor to consider.
Sometimes it’s a factor that favors separation. But if a separation could prove detrimental to either twin, trust your instinct to let them be together. There will be time to conquer the codependency down the road.
5. Learning Social Skills
Preschool is all about learning social skills and how to properly act in a classroom. Sure, some people think it’s about academics, but truly academics don’t need to be taught in preschool.
My twins fight frequently at home and are pretty competitive, but we will talk about that next. I’m sure most twins do. I step in when I need to and do my best to give them the skills to sort out their own problems and treat each other with kindness.
In the absence of not having the other twin in the room, he/she may feel shy because they are out of what is comfortable for them.
6. Channels Competitiveness
Because they are constantly compared and live as simultaneous siblings, some twins can be highly competitive. But many others aren’t, for example, boy/girl twins whose gender differentiates them.
Competitive twins in the same classroom may escalate their drive to outperform each other, seeking extra attention, academic achievement, or social standing.2 But for twins who don’t experience this sense of competition, or for those who are able to channel it into positive results, sharing a classroom can be a beneficial situation for both students.
7. Limits Distractions
When twins are able to work independently in the presence of the other, being together in the same class can be an ideal situation. For some twins, however, the presence of their sibling — their buddy since birth — can be a distraction and a potential deterrent to effective learning.
But for others, being separated can have the same effect, preventing them from concentrating on their studies because they are continually wondering what the other is doing in another location. Being together can help limit those distractions.
8. Enables Parent Involvement
According to the National PTA, when parents are involved, students achieve more.4 It benefits your kids when you are able to volunteer and become involved in their education. Having multiple children in different classes in the same grade can be prohibitive for parents who want to give their time to the school.
How do you choose which field trip to attend? Which teacher to assist? Which class to read to? Which class to provide cupcakes for on your twins’ birthday? Having your twins in the same class opens up opportunities for more parental involvement in their school.
If it is your goal to be an active, involved parent, having twins in the same class greatly simplifies the process.
9. Prevents Disparity
Although controversial at times, researchers have identified different learning styles, the ways that individuals process and apply information to learn new skills.5 Further, teachers vary widely in personality and teaching style.
A classroom setting is most effective when students’ and teachers’ styles “match” or are compatible. Twins are often very similar; even non-identical twins may have the same learning style.
If you have identified certain teachers within your twins’ school are adept at a teaching style that matches your twins’ needs, then it may be beneficial to have them placed in the same class. It also prevents disparity in their educational experience, with one twin well-matched with a good teacher, and the other struggling with a bad match.
10. Reduces Stress
What’s going on outside of school? Are your twins in a time of transition? Are they starting a new school, moving to a new house, welcoming a new family member? Have they recently lost a loved one, been through a family divorce, or experienced stress or trauma?
Take a look at the big picture and consider these external factors when making your decision. If “real life” is presenting some extra challenges, don’t add extra stress to the school day by forcing them apart.
Keeping twins together in the same class can lend some stability to the situation and help them adjust to their circumstances, both at school and at home.
It’s difficult for non-twins to understand the bond between twins. It’s a unique relationship. It begins even before birth and often endures longer than marriages, friendships, or a parent/child relationship.
For young children, being together is all they have ever known. If they want to be together, then they should be together. Separation can sometimes be a traumatic experience.1 It’s not that they can’t ever be apart — but when they’re in their younger years they may simply be better off together
While limited research has shown there’s no real benefit to keeping twins together in a classroom versus separating them, ultimately it should be up to the parents to make that call.6 And certainly, there will come a day when circumstances will require your twins to be separated. By allowing them to learn and develop together now, the transition to learning how to function while apart will be much easier when that time comes.