To Separate or Not To Separate Twins, That is the Question!
First day of school jitters—from what I have seen on social media these past two weeks and from conversations with fellow moms, I have deduced that we moms may have more first day anxiety than our children! Questions swirl around in our heads. Will they have friends in their class? Will they like their teacher(s)? Will anyone try to bully them? Have I taught them to use their voice when they need something at school?
These are all the typical Mom questions, but for twin moms, there are additional questions to face. I am the mom of two sets of twins, and this year, my 6-year-old boy twins started first grade and my 5-year-old girl twins started Kindergarten. The big question with twins is when to separate them in school. I ended up separating my boys in their last year of preschool—thinking that I was preparing them for separation in Kindergarten. For all intents and purposes, I thought this was the right thing to do. I had consulted fellow twin moms and teachers, but also reflected back on when I was a classroom teacher and how the schools handled twins. All signs pointed to separation is best. The separation helps establish them as individuals rather than lumping them together as “the twins.” It forces them to become more independent, particularly when one twin has a more dominant personality, which is often the case. It gives them the opportunity to have their own friends and experiences. Separation is also extremely beneficial if the twins have different learning styles so they aren’t forced to be compared or feel they need to compete with each other.
All that being said, when I separated my boys initially in their last year of preschool, it was gut wrenching. One of the boys is much more outgoing and the other is much more shy until you get to know him. The more shy of the two had always let his outgoing brother do all of the talking and I used to joke that he was a great wingman. That first day without his brother in class with him, he seemed paralyzed—like he didn’t know how to function without his twin. I second guessed our decision to separate them, but was assured that although it didn’t seem like it, that they would, in fact, adjust and learn to be more independent. It took awhile, but the more shy twin did finally adapt to being separated.
After going through all of this, I realized that because of the way our school district works for half-day kindergarten, the boys would be placed together again the following year.
This brought on a rash of new concerns. Would the shy twin regress in his new found independence being back with his twin? Would they feel compared? Would they branch out and make new friends?
Thankfully their kindergarten teacher was wonderful and validated my concerns. She assured me she had had experience with twins in her class and would do her best to make sure that the boys had some separation and distance from each other during their time in kindergarten. She did an outstanding job with them and both boys had a successful year.
Fast forward to this school year—first grade. This year they would again be in separate classes. I had been vague about questions regarding classroom placement all summer as I did not want the shy twin to have anticipatory anxiety about the separation. I waited to confirm the news about separate classes until the day before school started—just before the open house where they would meet their teachers. There was a bit of disappointment about the separation initially, but once we arrived at the open house, and they met their teachers and saw friends from last year, the disappointment melted away, replaced by the excitement and anticipation of a new school year! Even still, the night before school officially started, this mama bear tossed and turned in her bed hoping for all of her cubs to have a wonderful first day!
We’re now about a week in and I absolutely love hearing the boys come up and say to me, “Mom, I made a new friend today!” or “Our classes had P.E. together today!” I think it is fun for them to now have a dialogue about each of their days together and discuss similarities and differences along with sharing stories about new friends.
I guess the bottom line in all of this is that in most instances, the hardest decisions for parents turn out to be the best ones for our children.