Updated: Nov 9, 2018
Separating Twins in School
To separate or not to separate – that is the question you’ll be facing if your twins are starting preschool or kindergarten. I’ve been asking twin parents their opinions on this topic for years and people feel very strongly about this issue. My informal polling indicates that twin parents who have separated their kids in school believe it was one of the best things they had done for their kids.
I fall into this group and believe that by placing my twins in separate preschool classes, they have each become more independent. My daughter is much more confident, has made friends on her own, become more interested in books and reading and is thriving. My son has always been the “dominant” twin, so the separation seems to have had less of an impact on him but has also been beneficial. Separate classrooms allow each twin to develop skills at his or her own pace, free from the pressure and comparison of a co-twin. But the incredible bond twins have will not change.
If you have an option at your preschool, I highly recommend trying separate classes for a period – just a few months - then evaluating each child’s progress. You will then have more knowledge when deciding whether to keep them separate or together.
My twins have been in preschool for 2 years. Due to unforeseen circumstances we moved from Los Angeles to Florida and back to Los Angeles in the span of 2 years, so my kids have been in 4 different preschools. Yikes! They have been in both the same class and separate classes. I can say without hesitation that separating them has been extremely beneficial for both kids but more so for my daughter.
When the twins were in the same class they both did fine and their teachers told me they looked out for one another and played together a lot on the playground. They had shared friends, and they tended to stick together in a small group. They were at a Montessori school and this arrangement seemed fine.
When we abruptly relocated to Florida (due to Hurricane Irma) the twins were again in the same class. My daughter found a good friend she tended to stick with, and my son had his own friends. The teachers told me that Alex tended to boss his sister around in class and dominate her, so the teachers began separating them within the classroom. For instance, they sat at different tables during activities and arts and crafts, and they were seated apart from one another during lunch. The teachers found that my daughter seemed happier and performed better when she was in her own group, away from her brother.
Back in California, for a variety of reasons, the kids started at a new preschool, again a Montessori, where there was essentially one large class with ages 3-5 together. My son immediately found friends his age and he was quite happy. My daughter, however, had problems. The other girls were older than her and tended to exclude her on the playground. My son preferred to play with the boys on the playground, so my daughter was on her own. In a very short period it became apparent she was extremely unhappy. She had always been the one to excel in the academic area and she was always happy to go to school. She came home each day unhappy and started regressing with potty training. Due to the structure of this school there was no ability to separate them, so I felt we needed to change preschools yet again.
Their current preschool strongly recommends that twins are placed in separate classes. Initially, drop off’s in the morning were a bit difficult but it soon became apparent that my twins were quite happy in their own classes. They can play with each other on the playground, so they aren’t on their own the entire day.
Each made friends in their own class. They met during recesses and played together sometimes, but other times they preferred to play with their own friends. My daughter is not only happy to go to school again each day, but she has found her own clique of separate friends, and the formerly shy and reserved child has become outspoken, outgoing, very confident and independent. Her transformation constantly amazes me. My son has his own friends and he realizes my daughter is her own person and he doesn’t need to “help” her with everything, nor watch over her all the time.
The heathy competition between them is still there and in the evenings and on weekends they play together more often than before and seem genuinely happy to be around one another. Their distinct personalities are emerging and its incredible to see how completely different they are. Separating them has been eye opening for me. My daughter is no longer living in the shadow of her larger-than-life gregarious brother and my son now understands he is on equal footing with his classmates and he has learned to be much calmer, less argumentative and less bossy overall.
If you’re reluctant to separate your twins, try it for a short time period and evaluate. All kids are different so there is no one-size-fits-all. Keep in mind that all change is hard, but you can help them with this transition by explaining how great it will be and how they will still have so much time to be together after school and on weekends. And think of it this way– do you really want them so attached to one another that they have a breakdown if they get into separate colleges down the road? Chances are they will be apart then and after – but that incredible bond between them will never be broken.