I grew up with a set of fraternal girl twins. From kindergarten all the way through fourth grade we shared the same classroom, most of the time. There was a year in there, I think, where they landed with a different teacher, but they were always together.
They couldn’t have been more different. One was girlie and wore dresses and had long hair that she always had done up in barrettes and bows and the other one was tomboyish, preferring jeans and t-shirts and roughhousing with the boys at recess.
In fact, if you observed the class you wouldn’t even know they were twins as they rarely hung around together. That’s not to say they didn’t like each other. When push came to shove they always had each other’s back, but they were the untwinniest twins I ever did meet and being in the same class seemed to work for them.
I’m assuming their mom insisted they be in the same class as they always had the same teachers. And I wonder if their relationship would’ve been different if they had been assigned to different classrooms.
I hadn’t thought about these two girls for years until I read this article asking if twins should be in the same classroom at school on the NY Times this morning.
The research is split, the NY Times reports, with some experts suggesting twins do better in separate classrooms, others say just the opposite. This article offers ten reasons twins should be in the same classroom including keeping their educational experience consistent, they need each other and it’s more convenient for the parents.
On twinlist.org, a principal says he often gets requests from parents to keep their twins in the same classroom and he feels they should be separated but doesn’t explain why. A parent then leaves the following comment, “Twins and triplets just starting school usually benefit from the social support they give each other when they are in the same room. They seem to find it easy to engage in different activities when they have the option of being together. When they are forced to separate into different classrooms, they get the message that there is something wrong about being a twin or a triplet. They may suffer emotional stress from worry about their absent co-twin(s) and find it difficult or impossible to do their school work.”
In the comments of a previous post on Babble about twins and school one identical twin admits she’s glad her parents put her and her sister in different classes:
I am an identical twin and I am forever grateful that our parents insisted that we be placed in different classes, had different hair styles and were never dressed the same. I believe that it helped us to develop our own, unique identities and interests. Twins often have problems with social integration (this is still something I struggle with, and I’m almost 30!), and it would have been even more difficult to suddenly have to act as separate individuals upon entering the adult world without some earlier experience with boundaries and sense of individuality — I cannot even imagine the trauma of suddenly going off to separate colleges, working at different jobs or moving in with a partner if there had been no physical and intellectual separation before that point.
A mother feels the opposite about her fraternal twins:
My twins are same sex fraternal so I don’t feel the same “pressure” that the parents of identical twins might feel to encourage individuality.They couldn’t already be more different. I don’t believe that separating twins is a good idea when they first start school. School is a challenging transition and to lose your lifelong constant companion at the same time, would be quite traumatic. I believe that whether or not to separate siblings should be decided on a case by case basis, primarily by the parents with the input of the teachers. As long as my children are doing well academically and emotionally, I would prefer them to be in the same class for the first 1-3 years of school because of the practicalities.
Ultimately, of course, it’s up to the parents to decide. There should never be a blanket policy in place. And ask the twins themselves? What they say may not be the ultiimate course of action but it’s important to know how they feel and their feelings should be considered. And once they hit the fourth or fifth grade I think they should be able to decide for themselves.
What do you think? And if you’re a twin I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience.
Photo Credit: hearinginstitute.org