Primary school places have just been announced so parents of twins/multiples might now face the dilemma of whether to keep them together in one class or have them separated.
Schools may have a preferred policy, but it is ultimately the parents’ decision and you should be consulted. Tamba (Twins & Multiple Births Association) says: “Schools should not have a blanket policy recommending separation or keeping the children together in the same class.” However, it can be a grey area. If things don’t go your way you can appeal.
Separated: The pros
- Gain more independence
- Greater opportunity to develop individual friendship groups
- Develops their individual personalities
- Makes it more difficult to make comparisons
- Can develop at their own pace
- Less potential for rivalry
Separated: The cons
- It might lead to distress and anxiety
- Can be overwhelming
- Less convenient (Different points of contact within school, activities on different days, multiple pick ups)
Together: The pros
- Can be a readymade playmate
- Provide each other with moral support
- Can help with settling in
- More convenient (one point of contact, activities on the same day, one pick up)
Together: The cons
- Could be difficult to split them up later on
- Lack of independence
- Not as easy to form different friendship groups
- Easier for comparisons to be made
- Loss of identity – easier to be branded ‘the twins’ when in the same class (although this can and does still happen in separate classes)
- One twin can become over reliant on the other/one twin can dominate
- Can distract each other
Our experience of separating our non-ID twins
My husband and I discussed what we’d do before we applied for infant school. We quickly agreed we’d separate them. Maria and Gabby differ a little academically and substantially in character. One tended to dominate a bit more at pre-school.
We wanted them to develop their individual personalities and their own friendship groups, and didn’t want direct comparisons (obviously teachers wouldn’t do this deliberately, but I know how easily it happens). As Maria and Gabby were already familiar with the school because of their big sister, I felt it gave them the extra confidence to ‘go it alone.’
We were very lucky as the school approached me very early on and asked me what we wanted to do. They didn’t try to influence us at all, although I think they were very happy with our choice.
We’d talked to them beforehand to make sure they were happy to be separated, and they were fine from the outset. There are plenty of opportunities for them to interact at school and they soon realised this (they also do after school clubs together). Although they gravitated towards each other at play time, they quickly made their own friends. They are now in year one and continue to love it. They have their own firm friends, but continue to play with each other… after all they are very good friends!
They love telling me about their different days; there’s no jealousy because someone told me first. Also, they genuinely like to hear about the others’ experiences.
It can be quite challenging keeping on top of which class is doing what. There’s double the class bake sales, one needs to take something in one day, the other on a different day. Sometimes the same school trip is on different days. Also, class meetings happen simultaneously so I have to decide which one to go to (I alternate). I always get confused about which friends are in which classes. Once I’d got a a handle on it, I got even more confused when they jumbled the classes up for year one.
I think the biggest issue we encountered was the first time one got invited to a class party and the other didn’t. It was a steep learning curve. However, now they understand that they don’t always both get invited to the same party and it pretty much evens out in the end.
Parties are insane. We said they could have one all-class party. Obviously that’s two classes though so the potential for 60 kids. Thankfully it turned out to be a ‘modest’ 45!?! This year will be close friends!
You can have all the pros and cons laid out, but you know your children best so follow your gut! The most important thing is that they enjoy school.
- TAMBA provides many useful resources on the subject: Deciding on class placements for twins and multiples