You’ve given birth, decided on names, and have survived multiple cold and flu season, and now it’s time to registered your babies for school. Here comes the dreaded question and decision. Do you want your children in the same or different class? What do you do? Do you have a choice? And what is best for your children? What does the research and what are the best practices for multiple birth children? Today parents do have more say in class placement of their child and in this case your children.
Classroom Placement Myths for Twins or Multiples
Surprisingly there are a lot of myths about twins or multiple birth children. There is very little to no formal research to back up these ideas or beliefs about classroom placement for twins or multiples.
Some myths are;
- Twins or multiple birth children need their own space to develop as an individual separate from their siblings
- Separating twins or multiple birth children in different classrooms is better so that the teacher gets to know each of them as an individual
- Placing twins or multiples in the same classroom will lead to classroom behavioural issues
Your local school may suggest separating your twins or multiple birth children. Many schools teachers and principals may not be aware of research addressing how to meet the educational and social needs of your children. There is research that suggests separation is not always the best choice. Some research shows separating twins during the early school years can cause long term anxiety and distress.
Negative Impact on Separate Class Placement
Research following twins separated at a young school age showed they could developed emotional issues such as anxiety, night terrors, and fears that something bad would befall their twin. Other separated twins showed reading difficulties. Twins may benefit being in the same classroom until at least the end of grade 2.
When it comes to class placement each family needs to look at each of their children in order to determine what best fits their child, children, and their family. Parents and educators need to come to a decision that will benefit each child. A one size fits all policy is not suitable.
What can you do?
Meet early with your local school and the staff. It’s never too early to approach your local school to start the discussion. The principal and staff might appreciate learning early on your multiple birth children will be attending school next fall. Families of multiples can help their children adjust to school by advocating themselves as their best source of information regarding their children.
Parents and school staff need to invest the time so that school principals and teachers get to know their twins or multiple birth children as individuals and not as “ the twins”. And don’t forget to reach out to the school psychologist for information and guidance on what the best practices area for multiples and what is the current research on classroom placement for the early school years for multiples.
Same or Separate Class Placement
When deciding on same or separate class placement, parents and school staff need to take into consideration:
- Your children’s age and actual birth date ( are they fall or December babies?)
- Each child’s social skills and level of independence
- If there is any negative competition or comparison by the twins with each other
- What classroom support is available for multiples?
- What monitoring and follow up will occur with the parents to identify emotional, social or educational problems?
- Any already identified physical, developmental, emotional, or academic issues for one or all of the children
- Any special external considerations such as divorce, death or other events that may be causing multiples additional stress
As a parent it’s important to reach out to other parents of multiples and ask about their children’s school experiences. Other parents have reported keeping their multiple birth children in the same classroom made the transition to school easier. They stated that same classroom placement allowed multiples to provide emotional and social support for each other.
Each set of twins or multiple-birth siblings are unique in how they interact with each other, their peers, and will adjust to school. Research suggests that young multiples may adjust better to school transition by sharing the same classroom.
If teachers and schools want to help promote independence and individualization, staff must be able to tell each child apart from their twin or multiple and call them by their correct name. Parent need to stay in close contact with school and teachers, to be aware of how their multiples are adjusting to school and make the necessary changes that focus on the best long-term interests for the their children.