This is a question that all twin parents face, and it is one of the very unique aspects of having twins. How do you best meet the social and educational needs of two children who are the same age but who may have different learning or social needs?
We ended up separating the boys in preschool when they were 3, mostly because during our preschool interview, the director commented, (rather disdainfully, I thought) that they had “a lot of energy” together.
I was slightly embarrassed, as my boys scrapped like two puppies in her office. But then I was annoyed.
Of course they have a lot of energy! They are three year old boys, for goodness sake! Haven’t you ever been around children, lady?
(Looking back, this probably wasn’t the best preschool for us, but hindsight is 20/20 and it worked well for a semester).
But as annoyed as I was during that interview, the director had a good point as she watched me try to manage the boys’ behavior. I realized that I was constantly trying to separate them, telling them stop wrestling, sit down, and be quieter.
I realized that I didn’t want a teacher to have to manage their “twin behavior” in this way every day.
My boys have a lot of energy on their own, but together, it can reach a manic level.
I didn’t want their magnetic, manic twin energy to get them in trouble on a daily basis.
Separating them was the right thing to do.
After that semester, my work load changed (oh, the joys being an adjunct professor!) and they were home with me for the next year and a half.
Soon, we were looking at an all day preK program. And the question came up again: Together or Separate?
I was torn again: The preschool program had only been Tuesday and Thursday. PreK would be all day, 5 days a week.
Their relationship was so special. They were best friends.
How would they do in separate classes?
How would it affect their relationship?
Would they miss each other?
Did I really want to handle two different teachers, circles of friends, etc?
It was a tough decision. Ultimately, the “twin energy” factor came into play again. And something more: Aaron and I noticed that Benji was starting to depend on Micah a little too much. Instead of answering a question himself, he would turn to Micah to answer for him. Or when I would ask him about his day, Benji would defer to Micah to give the details.
This over-dependence on Micah to communicate for Benji helped us make our decision: Separate Classes.
And we’ve never looked back.
Both Micah and Benji bloomed in their classes under their excellent teachers, both in PreK and Kindergarten.
I loved that there was no comparing in the classes: The teachers and their classmates knew each boy by sight and by name easily.
I loved that each boy developed confidence and grew at his own pace.
I also loved that they got to play at recess together each day.
Their PreK and Kindergarten teachers told me how they would joyfully greet each other at recess.
They would hug and then run around like two scrappy puppies for the entire play time.
Separate classes didn’t hurt their relationship at all. If anything, it made their brotherhood stronger as they were ready to be reunited at the end of the day. There were fewer fights and I’m-annoyed-at-you squabbles.
Choosing separate classes at school was an excellent choice for our family. It helped each boy develop individually. It helped to eliminate comparisons from the teachers and classmates.
However, during first grade, separate classes illuminated some sobering truths, like how much Benji was struggling in school.
And that year, separate classes failed to shield them from what I feared the most: Benji and Micah started to compare their abilities to each other…and their observations broke my heart.