Twins – should they be separate at school?

For some reason, I have been wondering about twins recently. I have been reading ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ by Dianne Setterfield over the holidays and that has a twin theme running through it. Quite a few of my parent followers have twins and many conversations on twitter have been about them going to school. There seems to be more twin and multiple births now than when I was at school certainly.

That got me thinking about twins at school. Whether or not they should be in separate classes; should there be a particular approach?  I have not come to any hard and fast conclusions so this post has more questions than answers in it. I haven’t researched it either. It was just a thought.

Twins seem to have this uncanny telepathy between them. They know when the other is unwell, sad, happy. They are often the first port of call in any situation. This obviously would be very useful at school especially in the first few days in reception. However, is it good practice for them to always be together? Is there a chance that one will lead, preventing the other from flourishing?

When I was a Junior head teacher, I had a number of sets of twins (we did have a triplet too!) pass through the school. The infant school usually kept them together but at the age of 7 some parents asked for them to be put into different classes to give them both some independence.

I prided myself that by and large I knew the names of the children in my school. When it came to identical twins though I often failed miserably! I told myself it was because I didn’t see them together enough to see the differences. The children were always very generous reassuring me that it was OK that I had got them confused but I always felt bad about it.

So, how should schools cater for twins, particularly identical pairs? If they are kept together in a class, does that give the teacher the opportunity to know them as individuals because he/she can separate them? What about the rest of the school? Is it acceptable to ask them their name each time you meet them? For me it isn’t but other than allowing them to wear a different uniform or some object that separates them, I’m not sure how you do it. Siblings can be problematic in schools especially when comparisons are made. Twins present another element to this I suspect.

If you are a parent, what would you like your school’s approach to be? If you are a teacher of twins, what do you need to think about? If you are a school leader, do you make any special provision for twins and other multiples? How do we make sure that they are all treated as individuals?

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