10 Things Teachers Need to Know About the Twins in Their Classrooms

This fall, my twins will take honors biology. Together. They’ll also take honors geometry. Together.  If we had our preference, they’d be in separate classes but since their school is small, it only offers one honors class per subject so we’re stuck. But they won’t be the only multiples in those classes—another pair of twins will be there as well a set of triplets, too!

Oh, boy. Those poor teachers.

As a record-breaking number of twins reach school age this fall, more and more teachers are finding at least one pair of twins in their classrooms (and often triplets and quads). For some, this is their first experience in dealing with multiples. But even if a teacher is a seasoned pro, there are some general Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to multiples sharing a classroom.

  • Just because twins are together in the classroom doesn’t mean they always want to be together.

Many twins take comfort in just knowing that their cotwin is around so it’s not necessary to always pair them together on joint or group projects. In fact, many twins prefer to work with someone other than their cotwin. Working independently of a cotwin not only helps each to learn and develop at his or her own pace but it will also help you differentiate between the two.

  • Bend the rules when it comes to seating assignments.

Often students are assigned to their desks alphabetically but not all twins want to sit one behind the other nor should they. Placing twins on different sides of the classroom gives them the chance to make new friends and also lessens the opportunity or temptation for one to help the other on assignments.

  • Since identical twins have the exact same DNA, similar dispositions and interests, their book reports, essays, and even artwork may appear strangely alike.

In fact, their test scores may be within points of each other, too, as their IQ scores often are. This information may be useful if you suspect cheating but always check into it nonetheless by speaking with each twin separately and privately.

One twin may be a visual learner while the other is more of an auditory learner. Furthermore, don’t assume that if one twin is great in math that the other will be as well. Like all siblings, twins will have their separate strengths as well as challenges.

  • fraternal twin boys with backpacks standing in front of carHaving any two siblings in the same class makes it more confusing to learn their correct names but twins really appreciate it when you go the extra mile to get it right.

If you’re having trouble distinguishing one from the other, ask them privately for hints or clues that will help you to differentiate between them. (For more tips on connecting the name with the face, see this blog post.)

  • Don’t speak to the twins in your classroom collectively such as “When I call your name, you may get your backpacks: John, Suzie, Scott, and the twins.”

Instead, refer to each child by name. (If you’re having trouble distinguishing one from the other, see #5)

  • Don’t be afraid to give one twin a beloved classroom job like “door monitor” but not the other, and conversely, don’t withhold an award from one twin such as “Star Student” for fear that it will hurt the feelings of her cotwin.

Either way, it’s twin discrimination. Like all children, twins need to develop that ability to withstand the normal ups and downs of life but will never learn this important lesson if someone always tries to level their playing field.

  • Don’t openly compare your twin students in class and gently change the topic when other students do it as well.

It’s the number one complaint of twins who share a classroom. Fun questions such as “Who was born first?” can quickly turn to “Who’s smarter?” or “Who got the better score on the science test?” It takes a teacher’s keen sense of awareness to know when the questions have taken an ugly turn so it’s best to keep them to a bare minimum.

  • When it comes time for a parent-teacher conference, always compare the work of each twin to the class as a whole rather than to one another.

And better yet, make sure you have matched the correct twin with his student file before you begin your meeting. (It may seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how often mistakes happen.)

  • If you believe the shared classroom arrangement isn’t working and separation would be more beneficial, arrange a meeting with the parents to express your concerns.

School life is clearly different from home life and while twins may get along at home, they may resent being together in school. Let the parents know.


4 thoughts on “10 Things Teachers Need to Know About the Twins in Their Classrooms

  1. Wallis Marsh

    Oddly enough, people rarely ask identical twins their opinion on twins.

    I am an identical twin and employ a identical twin and know about 18 sets of identical twins. We are amazed at the lack of “correct” information concerning identical twins.

  2. Jo Brown

    As for my twins first year at formal education.. we have a tiny school of less than 200 students. i WANTED my girls together in Kindy – was so was happy that there was only one kindy class, not like the previous year of 2 classes. They put my girls at spearate tables and I was SO disappointed that one of my twins was at a table of kids I would NOT normally want her to associate with.. THE 3 other kids were NOISY and disruptive and did NOT listen to the teacher.. these are not kids I would EVER enocurage my kids to hang out with at a park.. one of thse kids ONLY came to school 2 days a week so was a celebrity in my daughters eyes and she followed her lead like a puppy.. ( she obviously only came to school a couple of days because she was NOT READY for kindy.. but somehow someone insisted she did attend..) I got more and more upset as I watched her through the doors – not listening to her teacher but openly chatting to her new celebrity buddy .. and not listening . SURE enough the half year reports came and hers was not good.. it was about her NOT listening, and not reading strongly.. I took action and told this teacher she NEEDED to MOVE my daughter away from these children… that at HOME we don’t have these issues and it is not acceptable to me that she is behaving this way in class and I felt so strongly I would ask for her to be SAT by HERSELF if they did not accomodate me by moving her. WHAT DO YOU KNOW !! finally they moved her not only to another table .. but without consulting me- they put her right next to her sister and HOW THINGS IMPROVED ! I am so RELIEVED to say she quickly imporved in ALL areas.. and came home with an excellent report.. Her sister still a little stronger in all areas and of course this is fine.. but sad to me because I feel that when they went to school they were equal in learning skills- and one fell behind ONLY -because these teachers felt the girls had to be separated.. WHY?? It’s only their first year at school.. after spending 5 years together every day, in every way.. Dont get me wrong- they ARE chalk n cheese.. I have a day dreamer, a non pasta eating 5 minute power napper who loves fairies, and I have a wry humoured, pasta eating, 10 hour bear hibernating sleeper and animal lover.. they are VERY different girls. they have very different personalities and friends… however they had the SAME learning styles because I TAUGHT THEM TOGETHER … and they had the SAME LEARNING SKILLS because I taught them TOGETHER … but the teachers took away their stability right from word GO.. INTERESTINGLY enough – i also had taught them to write LEFT HANDED , their full names and a load of basic words … as myself and my son are both left handed ..With my son in kindy I attended school 2 x mornings a week for literacy.. including writing so I was able to go around tables and help all the left handers with their writing .. This year I did not attend my girls literacy and within MONTHS both were retaught to write right handed.. WITHOUT any of the teachers realising they were STRONG left handers.. in the 6 month report came the comment that the girls handwriting was improving .. REALLY annoyed me that TWO teachers did not recognise that 2 kids in a class of 20 were left handed.. and DID write neatly and nicely left handed.. so.. think this wanting to spearate multiples in class is WRONG on so many levels.. IF you were a DOCTOR .. chances are some of your kids might be doctors too.. if you are a great sportsman.. chances are your kids might be great at sports too.. so if you happen to have multiples and they are interested in the same subjects.. the same sports.. WHO CARES?? if they were not multiples would you care either way ?? of course not.. then again WHY do we make a big deal if multiples want to be similar or not ?? they are JUST siblings of the same age .. nothing more..one of my girls is probably closer to her older brother than to her twin..

  3. Pingback: Do People Call Your Twins the Wrong Name? Seven Techniques to Help | Blog About Twins

Comments are closed.