Whether or not to separate your children into different classrooms is one of the more frequently discussed topics in the world of multiples. If you search around the internet, you'll see that there are so many articles and differing expert opinions. Honestly, I ignore most of them because I don't believe in cutting and pasting sets of multiples into specific categories. It's not that easy.
In come cases, you may not have a choice on whether or not to keep your multiples together as some state laws mandate the separation of multiples in school. This mindset seems so 1950s to me. In Massachusetts, where we live, the parents are the ones to decide upon the placement of their children who are multiples in school classrooms. This law was passed in 2008.
When the girls were babies, I thought that I would keep them together in the same classroom when they started school. There was no one specific reason for my decision. I saw how shy they were and I wondered if the fact that they had always been at home as opposed to daycare would make socializing with other children more difficult. Plus, they are triplets. I think some multiples are connected in a way that other siblings are not. In our family, they are the only children and they'd always been together.
When Anna turned 3, she was enrolled in preschool within our public school system so that she could receive PT and OT services. Allie and Emily joined that school the next September as peer models. I did ask about placing them together but once I saw how difficult it would have been for the school to do so, I didn't push. Plus, they were only in school for two mornings a week that first year. Half of the students were peer models and half had some type of need. The school also liked to keep kids with the same teacher for the two years that they were in preschool. Each classroom had 12-15 kids so my kids could have easily made up 1/4 of the class.
After preschool, I intended to enroll the girls in the same kindergarten classroom. Their preschool teachers discouraged me from doing so, mainly because of their shyness. Emily was/is so painfully shy that her preschool teacher was concerned with her transitioning to a new teacher for kindergarten. Their teachers felt that placing them together would cause them to withdraw from others.
I am by no means an expert on separating multiples but I have learned a lot along the way. When the girls first started preschool, one of the teachers told me that they like to separate twins because one is usually dominant and will answer for the other. My kids aren't twins and there isn't a "dominant one." You can place kids into categories but I think when in comes to the separation issue, you really need to look at each situation as being it's own. There shouldn't be a standard decision. So although my kids are shy, they handled preschool just fine. There were no anxiety issues associated with being separated. Because of this and conversations with their teachers, I decided to keep them in separate classrooms for kindergarten.
There are definite advantages and disadvantages to having multiples in separate classrooms. Thus far, the girls' teachers have been really good about coordinating with each other when it comes to scheduling conferences, which probably wouldn't happen if I had three kids in different grades and/or schools. The girls, especially Emily and Anna, are still shy but I think Emily came out of her shell a bit this year. The girls are known around school as "the triplets." Being in different classrooms gave them more of an opportunity, I think, to be seen as an individual and not as a set.
I've asked the girls a few times if they want to stay in different rooms or be together. The answer varies but mostly they do say that they like that time apart. They like having their own friends. They like having something that isn't shared.
Do I think that all multiples should be separated? Definitely not. I think that parents know their kids the best and we should be the ones making the decision. Consulting with teachers, who know our children, is a part of the process as well. Blanket statements regarding multiples shouldn't be the reason why they should or shouldn't be separated. Rich and I have discussed potentially placing the girls in the same class later on, maybe when they move up to the next school in a few years. By that point, learning is the focus in class, not socializing. But we'll see. A lot can change in two, three years. It will be interesting to see if our thoughts and views on this change in the future and why.