Twins at school: once separated, always separated?

There are so many advices about keeping twins in the same class at school or not, which appear to lead to a simple single decision. But sometimes your have to change your decision for the childrens’ sake.

Sometimes you’re firmly convinced of doing the right thing but later on you realise that the situation has changed and you have to adapt.

When our girls were seven months old, I noticed that while playing together, one was always the giver and the other one the taker. Hence, we decided that it was time for them to spend more time with peers. In order not to become „the twins“, but to develop their own personal identity, we decided to put them into two different groups at a daycare. However, when they were two years old, they had to stay in the same group for almost a year. But by that time, they were already very independent from each other. They were able to play on their own or with their own friends without needing the twin sister. They began to realise that they looked alike and started to trick people. They had lots of fun with this, and so did we. In this period I spent one day per week with one of them while the other one was at daycare, in order to provide one exclusive-mum-day for each of them.

When they were three years old, we decided to send them to preschool and we opted for two different classes. They both had their own teacher and their own friends. From the very beginning I told the other parents that we wanted them to be considered two individuals and that there was no problem if one was invited to a party or playdate without her sister. The girls did accept this and apparently did even appreciate it.

Three years later we decided to put them in the same class for several reasons. The main reason was that we wanted them to experience the fun and pleasure of being twins during their daily life at school. We figured that this would probably be more difficult once they’ll be teenagers. Competition will probably become a much bigger issue by then.

Some grown up twin-friends told me what they disliked most about being twins. They never liked to be considered „the twins“ (when identical), as half a person when the other twin was not present and to be continuously compared to the sister (or brother).

Since the very beginning we tried to avoid this behaviour within our family. We also told our parents and friends to consider the girls as two sibilings who just happened to be born on the same day.

Though looking pretty much alike, our girls have very different characters. They have different preferences in colors, toys, games, sports and friends. And at school they don’t even sit at the same table and they usually don’t seek for the other’s support.

Since we are aware of teaching staff or class mates seing them merely as „twins“ and never calling them by their names could lead to personality disorders and competitions between them, we will be very attentive.

6 replies »

  1. It was very interesting reading your approach – even with sisters (aged 3 and 6) I have to ensure I treat them as individuals. Just because one has a ‘craft suitcase’ doesn’t mean the other has to have one too. I asked a friend of mine who has twins how does she give them both attention? She said that she gives the ‘needy’ one attention at the time they need it. Actually it was just like having siblings who need attention and help at different times.

  2. Dear Tessa, I’m glad you liked this post. Yes, I think every child deserves it to be treated as individual. That shouldn’t be different for twins, triplets, quadruplets etc. It’s more challenging, but really possible. And in my opinion a mum has a big part in this (that’s why I was so outraged about the quadruplets I wrote in my post “What where they thinking?!”).
    It’s not easy to give our kids the same amount of attention. I do it like your friend: I give attention to the one who requests it. But sometimes the one who needs it the most is the quieter one, so I have to be very attentive. You’re perfectly right: it’s the same as having siblings. When two or all three need attention at the same time, I choose the most urgent and, if possible, I involve them all in the helping. How are you doing it?

  3. If all three clamour for attention at the same time, I tell them to, “Take a ticket and wait in the queue!” It makes me smile to myself and helps me not get hassiled.

    • Yes, that’s funny and really works – especially it makes everyone smile and hold on a second (or longer). I have to keep this in mind the next time mine will need me all at the same time. Thank you very much for sharing. Do you have other suggestions?

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