Whether to Separate the Twins in School and When to

First, apparently I have a blog here. I know you couldn’t tell based on recent inactivity. D’oh. I offer no excuses (because you twin moms know all of my reasons already) and only apologies. But I’m back today with a topic that is affecting us right now and that I know many twin parents have also struggled with.

To Separate or Not to Separate

We’ve been very fortunate that our ID twin daughters have always been extraordinary playmates and friends.

Alexis and Samantha are two sweet, enthusiastic, imaginative little girls who, if given the choice, would spend every waking moment playing pretend together. They often get in “trouble” with mom and dad for trying to extend that play into the nighttime hours. I really only mind a little bit because, if I am being honest, I am *totally* jealous of them.

Samantha and Alexis after a hairdressing session.
Samantha and Alexis after a hairdressing session.

My husband and I decided many years ago that we would separate Lexi and Sam in school some time during early elementary. Recent developments have forced that conversation to the forefront of evening conversation-

We recently had the girls screened for their new Pre-K program. At this private school, the kids are taken by classroom teachers away from the parents to be interviewed. I was told more than once not to sweat it, they weren’t grading my twosome- it’s only to assess their social and educational foundations.

I still chewed my nails nervously in the lobby during the entire half hour (oh wait, is THAT where Samantha is picking up that habit??).

When my children were finally returned to me, skipping and smiling, I got wonderful reports. We were approved for admission! The teacher asked me then, “What have you decided about classroom placement? Would you like them in the same class or in different ones?”

“Well, my husband is a teacher and I am very familiar with twin needs. We have decided that we will probably separate them soon. Maybe not this fall but soon after?”

Aren’t I just a know-it-all?? I cringe.

“Hm, can I suggest that you do separate them this fall?”

The lead teacher pressed the point a little bit. Enough to make my mind race and my palms sweat; why wasn’t I ready for this?? So I asked why she wanted them in separate classes.

“Well, every question I asked of Alexis was answered by Samantha. Every question for Samantha by Alexis. Even when we asked them directly not to answer for one another, they did.”

Yeah, Yeah, They Do That

Then, only in the last few weeks, we’ve started getting reports of the girls having some behavior issues in preschool. Nothing major, nothing really shocking. Except that EVERY TIME one got her card turned to yellow for something, the other sister would exhibit the exact same poor behavior within the hour. Those poor preschool teachers! Oh, don’t I know it? They DO mimic the good and, especially, the bad.

Those poor preschool teachers! Oh, don’t I know it? They DO mimic the good and, especially, the bad.

We MoMs know that part of the trials of two is that one rough evening usually involves both kiddos. Unfortunately for the school, it’s too late in the year to separate them now and we’re left containing the cabin fever and managing each incident.

I guess I thought we had this figured out. As I embarrassingly asserted at the Big Kids’ School, my husband teaches and I’m a twin research junky. I knew we’d cross this road and I thought I knew when it would be. Really, though, kids don’t develop according to timelines in text and we have been shown the right time to separate Alexis and Samantha (yesterday??).

Have you separated your kids? Was there any one (or few) things that brought you to that decision? Talk to me.

9 thoughts on “Whether to Separate the Twins in School and When to

  1. Dustin says:

    I’m not entirely sure its a bad thing that you’re having this experience. You now know that its time to have them separated instead of second guessing yourself for possibly doing it too soon.

  2. Aurelia says:

    I feel for you! I was hoping to seperate my identical girls in preschool, too. The preschool arranged the classes by birth months so they were together. At that point I wanted them seperate for the teachers’ sake so they don’t confuse them.

    When it was time for kindergarten I requested desperate classes. They were found to be advanced but each grade only had 1 advanced classroom. They were together from preschool-5th grade. They got called by their sisters’ name from time to time but they got used to it and have never had a problem with it. No behavioral issues at school other than arguing with each other and the occasional shoving match at recess.

    😛 They were seperated in 6th grade…I was more worried than THEY were! No classes together at all…just lunchtime! Now they’re in 7th grade and have 2 classes together and lunch. It didn’t all go according to my plan but they’re doing just fine.

  3. amanda says:

    My ID twin boys entered K this past fall. After 3 yrs of preK, and being told by many that I should separate them for K, I decided against that advice. I sent them to preK for 3 years in order to give them the exposure to social experiences as much as I could (I also have a dtr who is only 15mos older than they are).

    I’ve watched as they went from two inseparable boys who would refuse to enter a play space without the other, to brothers who, while deeply connected to each other, thrive and enjoy seeking out alternate play pals.

    As connected as they are, they’ve always been different in temperament and interests. They play really well together, but have come to attract different kinds of play experiences with their peers. They do not demonstrate behavioral mirroring, and learned how to separate themselves from each other emotionally as it pertains to expectations in the classroom.

    What I did see however is that they still needed each other close by. If one is hurt, the other need only see that his twin is ok, before continuing to explore and engage in his environment. When they are engaged in play separately, they will often stop, look for the other one, make eye contact, then resume their play.

    Since the only reasoning given to me by their preK teachers for separating them was their own difficulty in telling them apart or based on their own experiences as a mother of twins, I felt I had to follow my instinct and do what I felt was right for my boys.

    Thankfully their K teacher has no issue with telling them apart. I am also thankful that she places a great deal of importance on the social/emotional development of her students above all else. I felt that with the challenges my boys have with change, and specifically one twin has with being told what to do – :/ – I decided to keep them together so they could begin their experience in the big world of public education with their closest friend and ally at hand. I feel they have benefitted from this by learning from each other, and for that one twin who has difficulty following the rules?

    Well, I’m glad he has his brother as a role model instead of taking his chances on finding an ally in someone he identifies with; I assure you, that would have definitely spelled trouble for their teacher!

  4. Jennifer Stevens says:

    I am a little different as I habe noun girl twins. They are in 2nd grade and still in the same class. I plan on keeping them together for as long as I can. They are extremely independent.thier kindergarten teacher told me she’d never known They were twins if I had not told her. They continue to be very independent and have different friends, her’s being all girls and him all boys. So as long as they are thier own people I will keep them together. Makes things a lot easier on me. Same home work, same field trips, same lunch times same school parties…

  5. Terri says:

    We had planned to seperate our fraternal twin boys starting in kindergarten. Unfortunately enrollment was down and that year there was only 1 kindergarten class so they had to be together. There were slight issues like one twin getting mad at his brother and purposely getting all the answers on a worksheet wrong.

    The teacher always kept them at seperate ends of the room, then when it came to homework one would constantly try and copy his brothers work. They are now in third grade and have been in seperate classes since then and now actually help each other with homework since one is in the gifted class and a few lessons ahead of the other so they help each other now. Don’t regret it at all with separating them.

  6. Amy Davis says:

    Hi!
    I have fraterna twin girls who are now 6 and in K. They have always been together. Up until Pre-K, there was never any mention of anything with teachers. For Pre-K, I asked the teachers to separate them within the classroom. So they sat at different tables and usually were not assigned to the same “centers” (i.e. Home-living, blocks, etc) at the same time. They learned to do their own thing, but sister was still in sight.

    They were ready for K bc their older brother was already at the school. They only went to Pre-K 2 half days, so I was a little concerned about their stamina, but they adjusted quickly. Their teacher has been in this same classroom over 30 yrs, so she knows what she’s doing!! She separates them within the classroom, as well. However – this year there has been some drama unfolding as they have new girl friends and have become social butterflies.

    Twin A is more dominant and a bit more advanced at this point academically (teacher says it’s just maturity holding the other one back and she will catch up by 3rd grade, maybe before, but there is no difference in ability, just maturity). Twin A seems to draw more attention from the other kids. So examples of our drama are on the playground, A will go with a friend to swing while B is trying to join them.

    If there are 2 swings, B is always left standing while A bad friend swing. So when B pleads for a turn, the other 2 hop off and say – here ya go, a swing – but run off and do something else and don’t wait and take turns together. Also if A is playing with a child and B tries to join in, the child might say – this game is only for 2, you can’t play – and A goes along with it!!! She has been told that it’s not acceptable to leave her sister out in this way.

    My husband and I feel like the more dominant sister should look to include B and somewhat protect her from other kids who want to exude her. It’s a hard balance, bc A is wanting to make her own way, but she’s shattering B’s heart as she does.

    I am planning to separate them next year. B cheers when I say that, but ironically A cries. I feel like they will be happier to see one another on the playground, at PE, and after school that way. As well, when they start getting actual grades next year, hopefully A wont be able to make comparisons between herself and her sister – as she will sometimes do. It’s so hard!!! Good luck!

  7. Nancy Gavin Koester says:

    My fraternal boy/girl twins are now 25 (!). They spent nursery school together. When they got to kindergarten, they were placed, together, in a kindergarten/1st grade program at the request of the school. they wanted to see how twins would respond in the multi-age environment.

    However, Type A girl immediately migrated to 1st grade side, while Type B boy liked kindergarten. In year two, they still ignored each other, I thought. When time came for 2nd, the teacher highly suggested separating them, stating, “Molly needs a divorce.” turns out, a forgotten library book for him on Monday, meant she brought it in on Tuesday.

    She packed his backpack at the end of the day. She was always worrying about what he was or was not doing. As seniors, we had a “twin” day at school. they dressed as thing one,and thing two. People asked her who thing two was, and she said Andy. Andy who? My twin brother. You and Andy are twins? We didn’t even know you were related.

  8. Candy says:

    HI. I am struggling right now with my twin boys of almost 7 years. Since separation in school, the older twin has been doing awesome in school and had no problems until recently. The younger has been having a hard time since day one in a different school then his twin brother. The younger has shown some improvement, but says he misses his brother.

    Now both are having issues in school and have been threatened with expulsion for the one.

    What do I do?

  9. Tasha says:

    I am a twin and I was separated in the third grade. I loved having my twin in the class with me but I feel like it stunted my social growth because I already had my best friend and when they made a friend it was like I made a friend. I suggest separating right from the start let the child grow an identity different of that with their twin, they might struggle at first but it will be worth it.

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