By far, the number one concern of parents with school-age twins and higher-order multiples centers on classroom placement. Namely, should you separate your twins in school or have them share the same classroom? Thankfully in recent years more and more school districts are allowing parents to make this very personal decision for their kids. Whew! What a relief! But for parents who have successfully lobbied to get their kids in the same classroom, it’s inevitable that one day another question will ultimately loom: How do you know when it’s time to separate them? For me as well as many parents who have had their twins together for a year or two, there wasn’t any one sign that screamed out but rather a combination of events that signaled it was time.
If you’re a parent of twins (or even triplets) and find yourself at a classroom crossroads, the following 10 signs may help you decide if it’s time to separate your twins in school.
Your twins compete for your attention the moment they arrive home from school.
This was a biggie for our family. When my sons came home from their shared preschool class, it was a race to see who could get to me first to tell me what happened during the day. And even when one son got that coveted spot, he was never alone in his storytelling as his cotwin interrupted—often—to add another perspective. By the time the story had come to its conclusion, either one or both boys was highly agitated or in tears! That’s when I came to my own conclusion—maybe it was time to separate them.
Fighting between your twins has increased.
Sure, twins fight. All siblings do. But if you notice and increased amount of bickering between your pair, it may mean that they’re spending a bit too much time together. I’ve often written that twins rarely get a moment to themselves, a dilemma compounded by sharing a classroom. For some twins, the constant quarreling subsides once they have a bit of breathing room from one another. And six hours in a separate class Monday through Friday may be just the right amount of time.
Classmates begin to relate to your twins as one entity.
For example, although each of my sons was assigned a separate day to bring in the class snack, classmates would thank both boys as though it were a joint effort. This used to upset one of my twins as he wanted them to thank just him, to single him out to show their appreciation.
The teacher continues to confuse your twins.
You may dress them differently or they may be completely different in personalities but your twins’ teacher continues to confuse the pair. It happens. I’ve been to a parent-teacher conference where it took me ten minutes to figure out that the teacher had mistaken one child for the other in her review! Some parents report that their twins’ tests or essays get mixed up, too.
Your twins differ greatly in abilities.
If one twin is advanced academically while the other performs below grade level, it can be difficult to share the same space at school as it can adversely affect both twins’ self esteem—the one who excels could begin to feel guilty and may even “dumb down” her efforts while her struggling cotwin could simply give up feeling as though she can’t compete. Furthermore, twins in separate classrooms allows each to develop at her own pace, in her own unique way.
Your twins compete with each other.
Some children are just naturally more competitive than others. One mom told me that when her sons did their homework at night, it was a race to see who could finish first. It didn’t matter to either child that the work was wrong or messy; they just wanted the satisfaction of finishing before their cotwin!
Your twins differ greatly in personality.
And here come the comparisons from the other students. “Why are you so much quieter than your sister?” or would you believe, “I like your brother better because he’s funnier than you.” It can be hurtful or just plain tiring for twins to hear from their classmates day after day.
One of your twins asks to be in a class by himself.
Many times, one twin is ready to separate before his cotwin. No need to panic as it won’t adversely affect the twin bond. In fact, many families report that their twins grew closer once they separated as now they had so much more to discuss with each other at the end of the day.
Your twins distract one another keeping them from doing their classwork.
Whether they tattle on one another, band together to cause mischief, or whisper between themselves, if your twins keep each other from focusing in the classroom, it may be time to separate.
One twin depends too heavily on his cotwin or regularly rescues his cotwin.
It’s common for young twins to take on the roles of “leader” and “follower.” The “leader” may answer questions for her “follower” cotwin, or worse, dominate her by directing her around to certain activities in the classroom and on the playground.
Or, one twin may take the fall or cover up for his naughty cotwin. My twins were guilty of this! Different in personalities, one twin was a people pleaser while the other had little patience for authority. So if the teacher would ask the latter twin to clean up his toys and come to the circle and he refused, for instance, the former or people pleaser would quickly jump into action putting the toys away for his brother in the hope that his defiant twin wouldn’t get in trouble. It rarely worked and in fact, just reinforced these roles.
Your twins have speech issues.
When one or both twins struggle with speech, separate classrooms offers each child a greater opportunity to practice speaking on his own.
So what prompted you to separate your twins in school?