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When twins start school, parents face a tough decision. Should twins be together in the same class? Or will they be better off being separated into different classes with different teachers and different classmates?
There’s no clear-cut or right answer.
Every set of twins is different, and the correct choice may be together one year and separate the next. Sometimes the school system will set a policy that forces the decision, but parents’ input should always be considered. If you are trying to decide the best option for your twins, consider these reasons to separate your twins into different classes.
1. There Is a Disparity in Ability or Other Differences That Attract Comparison
Twins aren’t necessarily the same. While many twins have similarities, and indeed monozygotic (identical) twins can be quite similar, it’s important to realize that twins are two unique individuals. They may learn differently, and they may have vast differences in ability.
There is a natural tendency to compare twins, and the comparison can become quite uncomfortable when one twin is distinguished more favorably. A child that is constantly underperforming in comparison to his or her twin can easily become discouraged instead of working to achieve at his or her own pace. In such a situation, both children can learn more effectively if they are separated.
2. The Twins Are Very Dependent on Each Other
The twin relationship is complicated. It is a tight bond, and nearly every twin set displays some interdependence, relying on each other for comfort.
But in some cases, the relationship hampers their independence, and being placed in different classroom settings can encourage them to develop individuality.
3. One Twin Is More Dominant
Sometimes the relationship between twins is out of balance, with one twin more dominant and one more submissive.
A dominant twin tends to lead the duo, often speaking for both and influencing the actions of the other. This can be detrimental to both children in a classroom setting and is a good reason to recommend the separation of the twins.
While it may present some difficult challenges as the twins learn to separate from each other, in the long term, it can restore the balance of the relationship and help both children succeed in school.
4. They Are Very Competitive
Because they are constantly compared and live as simultaneous siblings, some twins can be highly competitive. Not all are; for example, boy/girl twins may feel more differentiated by their gender.
Competitive twins in the same classroom may escalate their drive to outperform each other, seeking extra attention, academic achievement, or social standing.
While this can produce some positive results, it can also prove detrimental to their educational goals and troublesome for their teacher and classmates. Decidedly competitive twins may thrive when they are separated.
Being able to perform on their terms can help lessen the animosity and rivalry and help them achieve as individuals.
5. They Are Distracted by Each Other
They’ve known each other even before birth and are each other original playmates. They may also be each other’s deepest rivals. Imagine being in class with your best friend and worst enemy and then going home to spend every evening together.
Adults can relate it to working in the same office with their spouse or lover. It can be hard to concentrate on learning when that important person is right in the same room.
Certainly, some twins can handle being close during the school day, but others can’t handle the distraction of being together.
6. They Are Only Interested in Socializing With Each Other
For young children, much learning goes on in the classroom beyond the A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s. It’s an important time of social development as they learn to relate to other students and other adults in authority.
Twins experience social interaction with each other from a very early age. However, they need to learn to socialize with other children, sometimes in separate classrooms.
If they are exclusive in their relationship, with no interest in playing with other children, they may benefit from being separated.
7. They Are Disruptive to the Class
Brothers and sisters treat each other differently than non-related students. A child who would never shout or hit a classmate might strike out against a sibling when provoked.
In a classroom setting, the relationship between twins has to conform to the classroom rules and standards of behavior. Otherwise, it is disruptive to the class and a behavior problem for the teacher.
If your twins have trouble setting aside their sibling relationship, they may be more suited for separate classrooms.
8. Their Similar Appearance Makes Them Difficult to Distinguish
Identical or monozygotic twins can have remarkably similar physical appearances. Sometimes they are virtually indistinguishable. This can cause confusion in the classroom, both for the teachers and for the other students.
Certainly, identical twins shouldn’t be forced to separate if there are compelling reasons to keep them together. Still, if their similar appearances make their classroom presence difficult or distracting, parents may want to consider separating them.
9. They Express an Interest in Being in Different Classes
Talk to your twins in an age-appropriate manner about the school situation. Listen to their feelings and opinions on the subject. If they express interest in being in separate classes, honor their request. They may say that they want their “own” class or describe a desire to differentiate from their co-twin. They may want to be in a situation where they are known for themselves and not as part of a twin set.
Of course, parents must make a decision based on the best possible outcome for each child and the family as a whole, and not at the whim of a young child. But your twins’ honest feelings should be taken into consideration in making the decision.
10. Trusted Sources Recommend Separate Classes
Research is important in determining the best option for classroom placement of your twins. Seek out the advice of people you trust. Consider people who know your twins as individuals and people who observe them both separately and together: daycare providers, pediatricians, current or previous teachers, school administrators, friends, and family members.
While you know your multiples best as a parent, balance your perceptions with the perspectives of these trusted professionals. They may see aspects of your children’s personalities that aren’t as evident to you, and if they recommend separation, it’s wise to consider their views in making your decision.