A couple of my readers have asked about our decision to put our children of the same age into the same class. I thought it would make for an interesting discussion, as I know both parents and school administrators have differing philosophies on this.
A caveat: while our children were born on the same year and the same day, they are not biological twins. So our experience may be a little different from children who share DNA or who look very similar and are struggling to forge unique identities despite being seen by the world as a match set.
(photo by Trever Hoehne)
For us, having our "twins" in the same class has proven to be a great experience. Here are some of the reasons around that decision:
1. The convenience factor.
To be honest, one of the main reasons around our decision was simplicity. And any parent of twins knows that this is a major consideration - because parenting two kids of the same age gets complicated. I put the children in different classes their kindergarten year, and found it difficult when it came to class parties, teacher gifts, and keeping track of homework. Different classes meant more administration for me, and more moving parts. But the straw that really broke the camel's back was the kindergarten graduation ceremonies. They were both held at the same time. Mark and I had to run back and forth between their classrooms and I ended up missing the moment that one of them accepted their "certificate." I decided that the following year, I would request that they be in the same class to try to simplify things for us. And it really does simplify things. I have four kids at the same school, and it is so much easier to only have to monitor the class activities of the three classrooms instead of four. It makes back-to-school night easier, it makes it easier for me to volunteer in the classroom with them, and it makes keeping track of parties easier as well.
2. Having an extra set of eyes and ears in the classroom.
One of my kids was struggling behaviorally his first few years of school, and it was really helpful for me to have a sibling in the class who could report on how things were going. I tried not to put her in that role, but she naturally gave an account of the day and that sometimes included info on her brother. It was helpful to have someone who could give me a heads up to any behavioral issues that I needed to attend to. And I think that having a sibling in the classroom meant that he was more accountable, because he knew that anything that happened would be reported to mom and dad at the end of the day. Even if the teacher didn't make a phone call. (And I am happy to report that, in third grade, those behaviors have all but disappeared. So parents of struggling kids, take heart. It gets better.)
3. They have their own unique interests and abilities.
I think this is an important consideration for parents of twins. If kids are competitive, I can see where having separate classrooms would be very helpful. My two "twins" don't really compete with one another. One is bookish and academic, and into the arts. The other is athletic and active. They are happy for the ways that their sibling excels because it is not an area that they are super interested in. So my daughter is not concerned with not being the best on the soccer field, and my son is not worried about having the best Accelerated Reader score in the class. They sort of do their own thing at school and stay out of each other's way.
4. They have their own set of friends.
It is funny, one of the comments that I always get from teachers is that they would never know my children are siblings by just watching them in the classroom. They really have their own friends, and their own social habits. My daughter is more introverted and has a couple very close friends. My son is more outgoing and tends to be the life of the party, with lots and lots of friends. But they do not compete for friendships, or triangulate with their friends, which makes it easy for them to share a classroom space.
5. They both like being in the same class.
Even though my kids give each other a wide berth at school, they have both expressed that they like being in the same classroom. I ask them every summer, and they always agree that they are happy to be in the same class. I think it gives them a sense of security and comfort to have a sibling in the classroom. If one of them ever expressed a different opinion, I would probably consider a change.
If you have kids the same age, what have you decided about separating or keeping them in the same class? How did you come to your decision, and if you have tried both ways, which one works best for you?