When the time comes for schools, should your twins be in the same class or different classes?
It’s common for both of your children to start school in Reception Year together, so they can settle into the school routine with each other around. Then, when they go into Year 1, they start separate classes. This gives both children a chance to gain independence and confidence, as well as make their own new friends. However, this isn’t the case for every family and you could have your children stay together if you really felt it was best.
Katie and Jessica Garner, 21, are identical twins. “At the end of Year 1, the school asked my parents whether they wanted Jessica and me to be in the same class for Year 2. I remember having a family meeting and while our parents agreed that they wanted it to be our decision, I think they were both pleased when we chose to go in separate classes,” explains Katie.
“The good thing about separate classes is that you get the chance to be independent, yet you’re also reassured that your twin isn’t too far away,” says Katie.
What if there isn’t more than one class per year available?
Whether you have a choice about putting your twins in separate classes or not will also depend on the schools available in your area – some may not be big enough to accommodate two classes.
“If there’s only one class, ask your children’s form teacher about making sure your children sit at opposite ends of the classroom,” says Audrey Sandbank, honorary consultant Family Psychotherapist for the Twins and Multiple Births Association (TAMBA)
“Sometimes if one twin is better at the task, for example reading or writing, then the other twin will sit back and let them do it. It’s important for each child to be able to do their own work,” says Audrey.
However, there are benefits for your children if they are in the same class. “Your twins will be able to continue learning alongside their sibling, which may be important to them and may be important to you. You are then only dealing with one set of teachers, as opposed to two,” explains Paula Burgess, Headteacher at Bramley School in Surrey.
“You, as a parent, will also feel better about your twins being offered the same opportunities. However, we make sure all our teachers treat, teach and assess each twin as an individual,” says Paula.
If you’re still looking for a school, speak to the Headteacher. You should ask him or her any questions you have about your twins joining the school. Make sure you do this before you make your decision.
Is it a good idea to send your twins to separate schools?
This will really depend on your individual situation. Some private schools offer discounts on school fees if you have more than one sibling in the school. However two schools means two sets of friends and a larger growth in independence, as there’s no chance of your twin running to the other twin every time there’s a problem.
“However it might be tricky for you if your children are in different schools as you’ll have to get to grips with two completely different sets of teachers and working systems,” says Paula.
“On the other hand, if your twins are completely different and had certain needs, then this may be a time when you would consider separate schools,” Paula says.
How can you prepare your twins for separation at school?
If you choose to go ahead with different classes or different schools, it’s a good idea to start getting both your children used to the idea of being apart. Most twins, especially identical, will have been extremely close and may never have experienced being on their own, so spend a few weeks before school trying out some of the following ideas:
- Have a family meeting to discuss the separation
- Take each child out separately. You could spend the day with one twin, while your partner takes the other and then swap the next day.
- Visit the school separately with each child. If this isn’t possible, you could take one twin around the school, while your partner, family member or friend takes the other one around
- Encourage both children to join different activities out of school
- Discuss with your children’s new teachers the importance of allowing your separated twins the chance to check in with each other during the school day
If your children are in the same class, help their teachers by dressing them differently. Obviously a school uniform will make this harder, but you could give them different hairstyles.
“Sometimes parents will put their twins in different shoes, or they’ll wear badges with just their initial on. For safety reasons, never put your children’s full names on the badge, an initial will be more than helpful for the teacher needing to tell them apart,” says TAMBA twin expert Audrey.
How can you help your twins’ individuality shine?
It’s important that both your children understand they are individual people, not two parts of a whole. Our guide to nurturing your twin’s personalities provides some expert tips on how to begin the process.