Some time back, I pondered the question “Should twins be separated at school?”
After all, my boys are identical twins: they’ve been together since before they were born.
Like many parents of twins, I was concerned about the effect that not being together would have on each of my boys since they were used to each other’s company, both at home and at school. Knowing that their brother was just a desk or two away, within the same classroom, was a comfort – or so I thought.
During Junior and Senior Kindergarten there were relatively few issues. The first two primary grades didn’t seem to be problematic for the twins being together; if anything, they thrived being in the same classroom with each other. Fast-forward to first grade. It was a whole different ball of wax.
Maybe it was the inevitable sense of self that pushed them over the edge. Perhaps it was their growing sense of competition that is heightened by being an identical twin because let’s face it: having someone who looks just like you can make a person want to assert their individuality more forcefully than most of us. Whatever it was, it was there. Competition, disagreement, and disruption ensued, all within the confines of the same classroom.
Their poor teacher.
“Everyone needs a break now and then and identical twins are no different.”
It became increasingly clear that the status quo wasn’t working. Being together at school, home and, well – always – was not a great decision.
Think about having absolutely no respite from a certain person. Most married couples will tell you that as much as they love their partner, they don’t want to be with them 24/7. Everyone needs a break now and then, and identical twins are no different. If anything they likely need it more than most, due to the nature of their connection.
Back to the school situation.
My boys were in the same class in first grade and suffice it to say; it didn’t go well. Not only was the presence of their twin a distraction to each boy, but it turned out to be a distraction to the rest of the class as well, including their teacher. Most twins have a special connection. Now, while this is often viewed as a positive (which it is, most of the time), it doesn’t necessarily work within a classroom setting. Being so in tune with each other often makes twins tune everyone else out – whether it’s the teacher, their friends or anyone else. Also, there is a heightened sense of competition between the two that comes out (when they’re not getting along, of course), which raises the stakes for everyone who happens to be in their midst. One-upmanship, a desire for more attention than the other and the need for praise and/or to win can result in a less-than-perfect classroom environment.
Here are 5 Reasons to Separate Your Twins at School
Since being separated for second grade, here’s what my twins have experienced:
Each boy has experienced greater confidence and a better sense of their self-worth since venturing into classrooms alone. For both of them, their strengths and talents are not tempered by the presence of the other brother, resulting in the ability for both of them to succeed and be judged on their own merits.
Both boys have a more pronounced sense of self and have grown their character that is not contingent or in relation to the other twin. The lack of being compared to their sibling allows them to thrive in their respective classes as separate and unique entities, rather than being seen as two parts to a whole (as twins – especially identicals – are often viewed).
The cord has been cut, and as a result, both boys appear to feel free. Perhaps they are enjoying the liberty that not having your identical sibling in the same classroom provides.
Both boys are experiencing considerably less distraction as the result of having their brother a desk or two away. The result? Greater focus on their studies.
There is, for the most part, a “dominant” twin, especially in cases of identical twins. When these siblings are removed from the same-classroom environment, they let their guards down (so to speak) and their real personalities shine through. They are individual and separate entities within their respective classrooms, so for all intents and purposes, they are on the same footing – just in different rooms. This makes a huge difference in their level of stress and previous fear about competing with their twin, continually being compared to their twin and winning or losing. These realities are no longer in the picture.
Separating my twin boys was the best thing for them and seeing how much they’ve thrived, I wish I had done it sooner.
If you’re the parent of twins and wondering whether or not you should separate them at school, seriously consider doing it. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that just a little bit of distance from each other is all that they need to succeed.
This is a guest post by a fellow mom of multiples, originally published on Organized Chaos on September 11, 2017. If you wish to contribute and share your multiples story/ tips, please head to our Submissions page for more details! This post has been syndicated with permission to Multiples Illuminated.