Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Separating multiples in school

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.  


Catherine said...

As a twin, I was in a separate classroom my whole life from my sister. I preferred it that way. We each made our own friends, but then because friends with each other's friends, so we had double the friends in a certain sense! Of course, every kid is different, and you girls are triplets, but I think splitting up multiples can be a good thing!

Amy said...

So interesting...and you're right, it's a unique situation for each set of multiples. Claire and Lilly have been together all along (they'll be in second grade next year). They are so different that they tend to gravitate towards different kids in the class, so they have a nice set of friends and I only have to deal with one set of homework. :-) I'm sure they'll voice their opinion eventually and at that time we'll figure it out, but until then, this is working (and I can't deny that having just 3 sets of classrooms to deal with for the kids easier than adding a fourth!). Glad things are going so well with the girls at school!

Beth said...

My twins just turned 1 so I have lots of time, obviously, but how did you find out the current state of your law in mass? I have been googling to find it in Connecticut but I can't find anything definite.

Annalise Kendrick said...

You also never know, I used to be so painfully shy I'd cry if the waitress asked me what I wanted to eat, but after about 3rd grade I started coming out of my shell as long as I knew at least one person and although I still have my shy moments I'm often one of the most outgoing people in a room.

Sarah said...

Beth - I just knew about the law in Mass. Maybe because it happened after my girls were born.

Beth said...

ok thanks, I will check with a friend who is a lawyer. The idea of someone forcing me to separate my twins is really upsetting.

Siné said...

I always find discussions about whether ti separate multiples when they attend school to be interesting. Some of the interest comes from being a former teacher. When I was an 8th grade teacher, the school I was teaching at only had 1 honors class per grade. My honors class therefore had 3 sets of identical twins. My other interest stems from the fact that my brothers are twins. My mom chose to separate them some years and to keep them together other years.

Cindy said...

Beth - I live in CT and my twins are starting kindergarten in the fall - the school gave US the choice to split them up or keep them together. Side note - there are 7 SETS OF TWINS entering kindergarten in the ONE school next year. Crazy!

Stacey L. said...

My twins are starting kindergarten in August and I am keeping them together. One of mine is shy and I think she does better knowing her sister is there, even though they made their own friends in their pre-k class. I live in CA and our district lets us choose. I will try it together and see how it goes, kind of like the dressing alike thing, I did it until they were old enough to have their own styles, if they want separate classes, I will probably let them be in separate classes.

Jenn P said...

Great post. I agree....it should be an individual decision for each family. I think about this a lot for when my boys enter kindy in 2014 (and my girls enter in 2018!), and for now, I've decided to split my boys. ~Jenn