Pros and Cons of Separating Your Twins in School

Separating

There is an age old question that every parent of multiples must ask themselves sooner or later: To split or not to split? That IS the question. In school, that is.

When the big girls began daycare and “pre-school” I asked each of their teachers along the way what their thoughts were on this hot topic. The responses ranged from “I see no reason to split them as they work very well independently,” to “That’s totally up to you as the parent.” I did notice the girls depending on each other strongly in new situations. However, to their defense, and I am not a twin, I was shy and preferred someone to hold my hand in new situations. Is their behavior because they are twins or just because they are their mother’s daughter?

None-the-less, when it was time to start kindergarten, which is an all-day program here, we chose to keep them together. For their entire life they were with me the majority of the time and their stint with daycare and pre-school was very limited, so I was nervous sending them off — and so were they. They were gone so many hours at such a young age; kindergarten was like a full time job!

Separating

It didn’t take long before they were really enjoying school and because they could walk in together I was off the hook of walking them in like so many other parents. At the second parent-teacher conference of the year I asked their teacher her thoughts. Her response was along the lines of, “I don’t ever make recommendations, although I will say when Lylla isn’t here Harper stands a little taller and prouder.” That was enough for me. She confirmed our thoughts that Harper was a little too shy and dependent on her sister. So in first grade we requested that they have separate teachers. We thought it would be a dreadful conversation and so we decided to break a big rule and lie. We told them the classes had been established and they would not be in the same class. They took it rather well after we promised them they would still walk in together, leave together, and see each other at lunch and recess. To our surprise it was Lylla who had the butterflies when the first day of school arrived.

Overall it has been great for both of them. They have stayed buddies but made their own friends as well. They’ve developed intellectually without being compared and have their own lives.

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It hasn’t been as great for us as parents though. Here’s why:

1. Parent-teacher conferences are on the same night and same time. Instead of talking to one teacher about both girls, we have to sign up to see each teacher. That can take a couple hours.

2. Field trips are scheduled on the same day and time as well. We have to pick whose field trip we are going to chaperone.

3. Birthday party invites just doubled.

4. Birthday invitations just doubled.

5. Attending class presentations is tricky. We always ask the teachers to coordinate that one goes first so we can see her then run down the hall to see the other go last.

6. When they were together if one was having a bad day and wouldn’t open up, the other would on her behalf. Now that they are split up we don’t have that luxury.

Those are the cons for us.

separating

As for the girls, the downside to not being together are:

1. No longer having that reassurance that someone is by your side; that someone that has been with you since conception. A great example of this was in kindergarten. The kids were to give a presentation and Harper froze. She just stood there frozen solid. Lylla quietly got up from her chair, held her hand, and whispered, “It’s ok.”

2. If one is being left out, she no longer has her twin around to include her.

But on the plus side of being separated:

1. They have really grown into individuals and no longer considered “the twins”.

2. They don’t know how the other is doing in school. For example, one is in the highest reading group and the other the lowest. If they were in the same class this would most definitely bring some embarrassment or lowered self-esteem to the table.

3. I love hearing them interpret the day’s activities without the other’s input.

4. It is interesting to see the different teaching styles and use it to our benefit.

All of these weigh heavily on the decision-making process. Even though the cons outweigh the pros in numbers, it is the weight of benefits that made our final decision. It will be interesting to see if our identical girls (our 2nd set of twins) respond the same way their older fraternal sisters did.

If your multiples are already in school I’d love to hear if you agree or disagree? Did you notice anything we did not? I love hearing the opinions and views of my fellow twin parents!

kerryKerry Bergeman is the founder and the mastermind behind New2Two.com peek at my life as a Mother of fraternal AND identical twins! Kerry is a full-time stay at home mother of six year old fraternal twin girls and one year old identical twin girls. She also teaches part-time at the local community college and runs Mommies of Multiples on Facebook (a group dedicated to helping moms of multiples with their daily questions and concerns). Her blog, New2Two is about life with twins, dealing with infertility, raising awareness for bully prevention and the challenges of having a daughter with a severe intolerance to dairy. What does she do on her time off? She is the Brand Ambassador of the Twingaroo twin carrier- the first and only ergonomic twin carrier that features a built in diaper bag (yes, that’s her on the box)! She sells Usborne Books to help encourage all to read! She’s bringing the book back one kid at a time!

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More Articles by Kerry Bergeman

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17 Comments

  • This is a great article. I have twin girls and like you we kept them together in K separated in first and after much prayer we put them back together in 2nd, where they are now. It was not advised but like your twins we have one in the highest reading group and one in the lowest. It is because of the encouragement and concern offered by one twin to the other that we seen our struggling reader begin to make improvements. Her sister encourages her so much that she is gradually improving and because of her encouragement other students have followed her lead and are encourages as well. I agree with all of your cons, this was another reason we put them back together. My twins are extremely opposite, I see yours are as well just by the way they are dressed. This alone creates different friendships. Thanks so much for your article, there is no much info out there on this subject.

  • I have twins, boy/girl, who are currently attending preschool in separate classrooms. They were in the same class last year and it appeared the out little girl ‘took control’ of her brother. He was never able to speak his mind or do what he wanted, so this year we separated them – best decision ever.

  • My identical twin girls are in Kinder this year, separate classes. They’re 6, almost 7. We decided to postpone Kinder and they attended DK when they were 5, same class. I know what you mean about scheduling! Luckily, both Kinder teachers work with us on this issue as there’s another set of twins separated. Mine are doing just fine with this arrangement. When homework becomes an issue, I’ll want them in the same class for convenience!!

  • My boy/girl twins are in 2nd now. They have been together 2 years now. They were separated for half day Pre-K and full day kinder, various reasons for that, but out of my control.

    I had always planned to keep them together, thinking it was a good way to foster Family First values as well as the idea of them always having each other for support and encouragement when needed.

    So far, both ways have worked just fine for us. I make a point to request that they not be seated near each other, so they are near, but not so close that it creates a problem. I see no signs of competitiveness, at least not any that wouldn’t be there regardless of their classroom situation.

    My son has been diagnosed with ADHD, OCD and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) which makes him quite challenging, especially in such structured environments as classrooms. Due to that, he receives more direct attention than probably ANY other child in class. Despite that, my daughter reacts and responds to him in class just like all the other kids do.

    I have asked them both seperately if they’d like to continue to be in the same class each year & so far they both request to stay together.

    So, since for all the reasons you list in this great article, it is easier for me to have them together; coupled with them preferring that so far, and add in that I’m seeing no negative repercussions from their continued shared classes, I will continue to keep them together.

    I suspect that I will separate them come 6th grade or so, if they haven’t requested it before then.

    However, all twin sets are different, interact differently with each other and have different levels of dependency on each other. I think each set’s parents should be the one’s to make the choice!

  • Thank you for this. My fraternal twin boys are entering kindergarten this year and this has been a big concern and question for me. I’m planning on separating them because my twins are so drasticaly different in learning style, the one that learns faster is highly competitive, while the other abhors competition and I think there would be a lot of unwanted comparing. Also, I’ve noticed my ‘shy’ twin becomes a new person when he’s by himself. You brought up some other points that I hadn’t considered. Thank you!

  • One thing I hoped this article would capture is how the twins may need to learn to be without the other. My identical twins boys were separated in kinder. It took them about 6 months to socially adjust without the other. We decided to hold them back in kinder because it was big adjustment. One thing I learned with my older singleton, if your kids need more time – socially, educationally- it’s okay to do the best for your kids and hold them back. They are expecting so much out of kids today in school. One twin was okay to go on to 1st, the other was questionable. I think it’s a big mistake to move 1 but not the other in the lower grades so both stayed back. They adjusted so well. My twins flipped flopped the next year in terms of who was doing better and they constantly rotate. I agree with scheduling parent-teacher conferences are hectic but I found the teachers are very accomdating especially since they know the situation. I have 3 kids and I get them all done within 2 hrs on same day. I have also found during all-school grade performances, field trips, activities, the teachers are amazing. They try to put them together so I can get the pics, chaperone both, or they arrange classes at different time/days if I am chaperoning both. Con, you are sometimes taking double or in my case triple times off in the same week.

    Also, agree, the twins don’t know what the other is doing which helps but you as parents cannot compare – “Your brother is better at reading, what’s going on with you. ” I picture each twin as 100% separate and never compare. The best thing about separating in kinder is my boys enjoy being “not having their teacher call their twins name.” It’s just themselves and my twins LOVE being individuals.

  • We have boy/girl twins; 6 years old and entering 1st grade after this summer. Ours are in separate classes and it is the best decision for our family. All of the positives above are true. We do get more bday invites, but we can always decline. We do respectfully request to bring both kids to the parties we attend and offer to pay the difference. (Typically, where we live, people just include siblings without even asking, ugh.)
    Teacher conferences are fine because they are scheduled. Class programs are tough, but I bring family members as backup. Granny in one room, Grandad in the other and I “float”. I also set up a video camera in each classroom.
    The teachers have been very accommodating by allowing me to bring one child to the other’s classroom for parties. We just alternate classrooms for each party. It has been working well.
    My suggestion would be to discuss “twin” concerns with both teachers and ask for accommodations. Since I volunteer at school quite a bit, they know our family and it has been a good year for us.
    Many parents have children in different grade levels and struggle with similar issues. At least mine are in the same hallway, LOL.

  • We have identical twin boys- they started Montessori at age 18mo. We split gem then and they are still split going unit 1st grade at a public elementary school. We ALL have seen the pros and the cons. But we feel he pros greatly outweigh the cons.

  • What a great article, thank you so much for posting this! I have been battling this in my own mind since they started 3yr old preschool. My identical G/G twins have been in the same classes for 3 years(3 yr old preschool, 4 yr old preschool, kindergarten), going on 4yrs as they begin 1st grade this year.
    Twin B, Sydney, has CHD and a congenital eye syndrome (Duanes syndrome), she has gone through 5 heart surgeries and 1 bilateral eye surgery; as a result of these issues it has delayed her learning process for numerous reasons. BUT she’s doing great now, twin A, Aubrey, is a typical 6 1/2 yr old, learning perfectly and she has shown to be of great support to Sydney. Sydney is in a special reading group at school but otherwise she’s right along with Aubrey in their class.
    As they start 1st grade, I have deeply thought about separating them as they depend on each other a lot! But on the other hand, with one supporting the other so much how can I separate them now? It’s such a back and forth thinking process for me comparing the pros and cons, frequently. This year I decided to keep them in the same class for 1 more year. Mainly because Sydney is having her 6th heart surgery this month, and then she’ll receive her final open heart surgery. My heart and mind tells me to keep them together this school year as Sydney heals from surgeries while continuing her education but with the side by side support of her twin.
    Next year, will be the year I try out separate classes so they can individualize themselves. Aubrey is so ready, she socializes on her own while Sydney is more preserved and independent. It’s amazing how different their personalities have grown! Even though it breaks my heart to see them grow apart I know it’s a positive thing for them to be their own person and it is so important for them to learn that for themselves.
    I’ve also thought of the schedules you’ve mentioned, my goodness! It’s already crazy busy with them both but separate schedules, is beyond me, although I know it will all work out in the best way it can! Thank you again for this true article!!

  • We chose to separate my fraternal twin boys. Like you, the “dominant” twin ended having the anxiety and struggled, and the “follower” twin blossomed and finally had his own friends.

    They pushed their beds together in preschool and when I suggested as Kindergartners they separate them in the Spring, the dominant twin said no and cried.

    Now as they enter 1st grade, I think they are even closer and have both requested that the beds be separated when the school year begins. When I check on them I notice the follower is always cuddled next to his big bro on his bed.

    Gotta love twins!

  • I love this article. I am a teacher and mother of 2.5 year old identical twin girls. I think it is beneficial to seperate them but I’m more hesitate in Kindergarten as my girls are identical. I wonder if that makes a difference. I wonder how many identical twins are separated in Kindergarten. I will definitely seperate them in first grade, but should I in Kindergarten?

  • My twin boys will be entering first grade this year…in different classrooms. They were together in kindergarten, so it will be interesting to see how they do when apart. When they were told they would be in separate classrooms, one of them spouted, “but we’ll see each other at recess.” So they seem prepared to cope. Another bit of good news is that each of them will have a good friend from kindergarten in their class. They too have rarely been apart, so their mother and I are eager to see how they adapt. Thank you for your article. It would be great if we could all get together during Christmas break and compare how things turned out!

  • Hi my name is Cari, and I am a mom to 11 year old fraternal twin girls and 5 year old identical twin boys!! I also have a great solo girl who will be 18 next week!!
    I just had to say hello in this crazy world of Cari/Kerry 2 sets of twins coincidence!
    And for the record I split the girls up because their school strongly suggested ( told) me to… The boys will start kindergarten together next month and we shall see how it goes!

  • I seperated my Boy/Girl twins in Kindergarten last year after they spent two years together in preschool, because my boy was always concerned about what his sister was doing and not ficused on learning. They also fought over friends and tattled on eachother! It was a great experience having them in different classes, they learned more, became independant and made their own friends. My best advice from my troubles is to not allow them to take out their papers from their backpack until you reach home and to have seperate homework baskets or cubbys to put their papers in, and possibly their own bullitin boards to tack their reminder notices etc. I was always getting confused on who was doing what and who had to bring what for each class party etc. because they would pull out their papers and they would be mixed up! Then I would have to pull the teachers aside to clarify or e-mail them and that’s not an easy task at drop off or pick up with 24 other kids and parents! Also I have had input from grown twins who have said ” it’s so great that you split them up because I was always stuck with my twin and never had my “own” anything!”

  • We had kept our boy-girl twins together in preschool first year which did not go well and separted 2nd year of preschool and back together in kindergarten and we made it through but i think our kiddos do better separately so separating in 1st. Crossing our fingers goes well!!

  • My girls are 15. For them separating them was best in grade 2. The one strugled with self esteem & being classed as” the twins” and not as individuals was a concern. We saw them flourish as individuals. The different friends,dressing…coming into their own. Yes the school work differs. We run around on parent teacher days etc but they are best friends who can identify with each other. They study together,push each other to outperform. Having each one bring a friend over ends up with so many teenage girls running in our home but it’s awesome. We have double the love & fun always!

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