Education advice for parents with twins - what to consider when making school choices
Having taught a number of children of varied ages, who are twins, during my 13 year career as a teacher, I can see the challenges experienced by their parents, who often seem to feel that they have double the worry when it comes to making the right school and education choices. From my experiences and observations of twins of all ages within the school environment, I hope that some of the following tips or points to consider might make it easier for parents with twins to be confident and a little less worried about making these important decisions.
Should they attend the same school?
Every child is an individual. Whether children are twins or siblings of different ages, it is very important for parents to consider making choices for each of them as an individual. Their personality, level of confidence with peers and adults, interests, educational, sporting and musical strengths and weaknesses, will be different for each child. Consider each child carefully and weigh up school options that suit each of their needs, as an individual.
Often logistics and a desire to appear ‘fair’ with the opportunities afforded each child, leads parents down the path of the same school. However before making this decision, ask yourself the following:
Will one child thrive better in a school with smaller class sizes, more/less homework, greater academic drive, broader extra-curricular opportunity?
Do they have different interests and strengths, meaning different schools would better meet each of their needs as an individual?
Is one child more confident and/or talented or academically advanced, meaning comparisons may be made that may knock the confidence of the less forthright or able child?
Are the children so close that separation may lead to anxiety?
Having decided on the school, you are then faced with the question:
Should they be in the same class?
Making the decision for your twins to be placed into the same class can present challenges for both teachers and classmates and often schools will separate children who are twins as a matter of policy. Ask the schools you are considering if they have a policy regarding the class placement of twins and if they do, why have they come to this decision?
Should your gut feeling, as their parents, be that being separated when they start out at school will cause them angst, be prepared to discuss your thoughts and opinions with the school you are considering, to make sure you come to a mutual decision, with which you are happy. This decision should be made along the lines of what is considered best for the children, rather than because it meets with ‘policy’.
Ask the children for their opinion. Of course, they should not make the final decision, but it is important to listen to their views and take these into consideration. Try to have this discussion with each child individually, as you may find that they have different opinions.
Remember making this choice for one academic year, does not necessarily mean it must be the same at every age. Ideally, this decision should be reviewed annually.
Ask other parents of older twins what their experiences were, what worked and what didn’t and what they would recommend.
Observe your children in their pre-school environment or ask childminders, nannies or nursery staff what they would consider best for the children. Did they mix well in nursery and find it easy to make friends? Do they tend to play with one another and exclude others? Is one child more outgoing than the other, always taking the lead? Listening to the views of professionals who have seen how the children behave away from your watchful eye, can assist you to gather a different and useful perspective, to aid you in making this decision.
10 reasons to place them in different classes
They are very competitive with one another -intense sibling rivalry.
They are very dependent on each other.
One twin is more dominant, the other more shy.
There is a disparity in ability or other differences that attract comparison.
They are often distracted by each other.
They are only interested in socializing with each other and not mixing with peers.
They can have a tendency to be disruptive in class.
Their similar appearance makes them difficult to distinguish.
They express an interest in being in different classes.
Trusted sources recommend separate classes.
10 reasons to place them in the same class
It ensures a consistent educational experience.
There is only one class option at your chosen school.
It is more convenient for family logistics.
One twin needs the other.
They are not overly competitive.
They are not distracted by each other
Their special bond simply makes them more comfortable together.
It enables parents to be actively involved in their education.
They have similar learning styles.
External circumstances would make a separation stressful.
Once you have made your decision on class placement, observe and monitor their individual progress.
Should you decide to place the children in the same class, meet with their former teacher before they start school to agree on a system so that the children can be quickly identified by teachers within the learning environment and their peers during play-time. Communicate in detail to the teacher as much as possible their individual personality traits, to assist them to get to know them better. How do you know which child is which, having known them since birth? Perhaps write down some tips for reference. The children need to feel they are individuals, praised for their own merits and not getting into trouble for something their sibling may have done! For example, buy obviously different pencil cases to sit on their desk during lessons. With girls, style their hair differently – one with a ponytail, one with a French plait or buy different coloured Alice bands. For boys, different haircuts will assist in the same way. Buy different coloured football or rugby boots.
Encourage the children to make new friends and to mix with other children as much as possible. It is often easiest for schools to get to know the children as individuals if they are often apart, engaged in different activities with their own groups of friends, rather than always together. Different groups of friends will mean they are invited to different houses on play-dates and they will start to learn to become independent from one another.
If one twin is more confident and progressing more quickly with their learning than the other, asking the school for them to be placed in different classes will avoid comparisons being made, which can often knock the confidence of the less dominant child. Out of the shadow of their sibling, it is highly likely they will find their own areas in which to excel as an individual and hence flourish.
Try not to worry too much. Make a decision that feels right to you, as their parents. Monitor the children’s progress and happiness at school and if anything starts to concern you, talk it through with the class teacher or tutor who will be very happy to reassure you or to address any issues that might be causing concern, before they become too major.
Further education advice for parents
For further education advice for parents on choosing the right schools for your children, please contact our team of consultants for an informal discussion about your requirements.