To Separate or Not to Separate: Twins in the Classroom

When twins get to be school aged, many parents face the dilemma of what to do with their twins. While some schools have rigid policies regarding separating twins (or not separating them) other schools have a more relaxed approach. What’s interesting to me is that despite a lack of solid evidence for either side, proponents of both sides are equally adamant in their positions.

Separating Twins

People who fall on this side almost always tend to be administration and teachers, although there are parents who feel their twins would be best served by being separated. Many teachers feel that keeping twins together hinders them in developing their own identity. Furthermore, if the twins are identical, teachers have a hard time telling them apart which makes (as I’ve heard some teachers claim) for a difficult school year of calling the child by the wrong name.

Many teachers site that in class, twins who are together have a harder time. Teachers say that twins tend to compete against one another which can lead to unhealthy self-esteem. Teachers also say that twins, particularly boys, tend to feed off each other and antagonize each other in such a way as to cause disruptions in class.

Keeping them Together

Many parents, however, are not convinced by any of the aforementioned arguments. Parents who want to keep their twins in the same class site several reasons. First of all, twins (or siblings) will compete at school regardless if they are so inclined. If you separate their classes, they’ll simply compare what they are doing at home. Secondly, it is not unreasonable to ask a teacher to learn the names of the twins in her class. Parents also have to learn to tell the difference between their twins and it is not impossible.

Furthermore, many parents point to the “special bond” of twins and that separating them before their ready can have devastating affects.

Arriving at a Compromise

The problem is arriving at a compromise when the parents and the administration and/or teachers of the school disagree. It is important to remember that neither side is wrong. . .or correct. Some twins may in fact experience such a high degree of anxiety when separated that it would hinder learning. This does not mean that they won’t form healthy self-identities. On the other hand, having twins in the classroom together can, on occasion create issues for the teacher in terms of behavior.

I believe that the parents know their children best. Parents should have the choice as to whether or not to separate twins or not separate them. However, parents also need to be open to reviewing the situation at parent/teacher conferences as needed. Something that I find very few people get is that twins are simply different. They don’t respond as “singletons” do. I think research is just touching the tip of the ice berg as to why and how twins bond the way they do. In the meantime, schools should refrain from having rigid separation policies.

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For more discussion pertaining to parenting twins, check out the Parents of Multiples forum!