Twins and School

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Twins in school - together or separate?

Jan 2001


My twin daughters will be entering kindergarten in the fall, so we are about to face the familiar dilemma: together or apart? The school they will probably be attending has two classes per grade, so we do have the choice of separating them. They are fraternal twins who look nothing alike. They're pretty good friends, though they do their share of fighting... One is going through a very competitive, dominating stage where she always has to be the first, the highest, the biggest, the oldest etc. The other says she would like to be in separate rooms. Right now they're at a preschool with a total of 20 kids, and they're together. Has anyone had a similar experience? Any thoughts? Thanks. Iris

My cousin's twins were in separate classes when they started school. The boy flourished at this time. The girl was always outgoing and made friends easily and the boy sort of depended on her for the friends and often was left out. He now has his own friends and is much more self confident. June

My fraternal twins are now nearly 14. A girl and boy. We tried to listen to what they wanted in terms of separation, and togetherness. They really wanted to be together, even though they fought and played together.

I observed that their response to other children was markedly different than that of singletons. As twins, they have had a partner since they were womb-mates. They know what intimacy is. That's one of the reasons they fight and love so strongly, and the relationship is so vivid. When they reach out to other children, they don't get the intimacy and intensity, the connection, that they expect, and the tendency is to return to the other twin for comfort. But this wanes. Some twins are so close that to separate them would be like forcing a happily married couple to divorce. Some need that extra push to learn the world of the other.

In any event, there is no harm in starting them out together and seeing how it works, while getting their feedback and the teachers'. There is no rush to separate them, is there? Developmentally, there is no time table that specifically demands you keep those kids apart so they don't become conjoined. If in the same class, you'll be able to evaluate the situation, and make changes if necessary. The reverse would be harder on everyone. Tobie

I am a fraternal twin who was not separated in the classroom until the fourth grade. Looking back, not separating us was a huge mistake. Both of us suffered in different ways. My twin was not quite academically ready for school (we were Nov. babies) and developed a pattern of copying me and not really thinking things through for himself. This was very subtle and not noticed until we changed schools and their policy was to separate twins. By that time he was significantly behind. His self-esteem fell dramatically as he began to fail at schoolwork and even now as an adult has complex failure issues.

Though I always was a more assertive person, I did not learn how to make friends on my own. My twin was my best friend and we were always together so I didn't need to make new friends. I really missed out on the basics of making friends. By the time we got separated, I was hopelessly behind socially and withdrew from my peers because I felt like such a dweeb.

My twin and I share some attributes- mostly in personality, not looks- and everyone assumed that we operated as a unit and therefore felt and experienced the same things. This was detrimental to us both. It is much more difficult for a twin to figure out who they are as an individual. An I rather that a we. Being in the same classroom compounded that problem. Personally, I would never even consider not separating twins in school. Helene