It’s the big question every parent of four year old twins has to consider. Should I be separating twins at primary school or keeping them together?
And I tell you what, it’s a bloody agonising situation to be in! Should I, shouldn’t I? I think I’ve changed my mind about 148 times.
But we’ve come to a decision about separating twins at primary school when they start in September. And we’ve decided to put them in different classes.
Whaaaat? I hear you gasp!! Thought you were going to keep them together to start with like you wrote in this blogpost last year?
I changed my mind A LOT on separating them
Yep, I was. Then I changed my mind. Then I changed my mind again. And again. I wasn’t exaggerating that much when I said 148 times.
My boys start Foundation in September and because the school is a two form entry we have the option to put them into different classes.
I am extremely lucky that the decision has been 100 per cent down to us as parents. Apparently schools aren’t supposed to have a ‘policy’ about separating twins at primary school but I think in reality they all have their own preferences. Some like to keep them together. Others think they should be apart. Ours are doing what WE want for OUR boys.
I have had long conversations and email exchanges with both the head teacher, head of early years, and their preschool key workers about this. It’s not been a decision I’ve (we’ve) taken lightly. But for US and for THEM I think it’s the right one.
That is not to say it would be the right one for everybody. Only a third of twins are apparently separated at primary school, so my two will no doubt be in the minority.
Indeed in my eldest’s year group there are four sets of twins, and all of them have been kept together as requested by their families. Some twin parents would be horrified at the thought of putting twins in different classes. I know some feel quite strongly about it and would think I’m doing the wrong thing. That’s fine. Luckily these are our children and it’s nothing to do with anyone else.
My reasons for separating twins in primary school
Okay, so there are lots of reasons. We were originally thinking we’d keep them together in Foundation then separate them at a later date. It was always an absolute must for us to separate them at some point though.
They need to be their own person
So as much as being a twin is hugely special and must be pretty flipping cool. They are in fact two separate human beings and as such need to find their way in the world on their own eventually. Unless they’re going to be weird and live together their whole lives like you hear about some 90 year old twins in Bulgaria or somewhere, having never spent a day apart. This is NOT what I want for my boys, funnily enough!
I want them to become strong, independent boys then young men, able to have the confidence to do things by themselves without having to have the crutch of a twin next to them. As lovely and handy as that might be right now. My eldest hasn’t had that and his report has just highlighted his positivity, confidence and that he’s a brilliant role model. So he’s done okay on his own.
By putting twins in different classes at primary school, I’m hoping this will foster and encourage that independence from day one. They are not identical, they could easily be at school and other children not even realise they are twins.
I don’t want them to compete with each other
I’m not sure about your twins, but my pair are TOTALLY different, and not just in the way they look. Their personalities are like chalk and cheese sometimes, and already I can see they will flourish in different areas at school. Their key workers at preschool have already told us they gravitate towards different activities and hence play with different children rather than each other. Twin One is creative, more patient, and loves to sit and colour or do craft. (God knows where he’s got that from, as it ain’t me!) Twin Two could not give a shit about any of that. He would rather be building things out of Lego, Duplo, Mobilo or blocks. He’s like his older brother in that sense.
I don’t want them to feel they are in competition with each other at school. If Twin One gets the praise for colouring in something beautifully, I don’t want Twin Two to feel inferior that his picture is more than a little bit crap. I’m not being harsh on purpose – you’ve seen the photo above!
But Twin Two has nailed his numbers and letters way more than Twin One. When I read counting books with them, it’s Twin Two that takes over and does them perfectly, whilst Twin One holds back because he often gets them wrong. He’s already hesitant to try because he knows Twin Two will answer for him. I don’t want that to happen in school. Something else I don’t want to happen, is for them to come home and tell tales on each other about what they’ve done or if they’ve been told off.
I want them to make their own friends
I’m really keen for them to make their own friends at school. And to not be reliant on each other. Twin One is more confident so would lead the way, I think, and Twin Two would predictably just follow. But I want him to find his own group of mates too. Also, so that if one of them is off sick, the other one isn’t upset in going to school on his own. The downside of this is obviously all the birthday parties they may well get invited to – and the other one be left out. We’ll see how that one goes! And I’m definitely NOT holding a birthday party for 60 kids. The one I held for 35 children a couple of years ago was bad enough. I’m putting my foot down on that one right now!
Separating twins at primary school might make them actually like each other!
Okay so this is a bit of a strange one and I doubt it’ll work, but I’ve read from some of my followers that it does. My boys fight a lot. Like all the time. It drives me insane. And I’m not just talking about falling out over a toy. I’m talking about Twin One pulling actual HANDFULS of hair out of Twin Two’s head. Then there’s the biting, scratching, kicking, slapping and punching. They are horrible to each other on a daily basis. Obviously there are times when they play nicely and are kind to each other but I’d say this happens about 20% of the time compared to 80% when they’re at each other’s throats.
This may be a pie in the sky dream, but I’m kind of hoping that by being separated in school, they might miss each other a little bit. And then actually be vaguely nice to each other when they get home. This of course might not happen at all, and is for purely selfish reasons by me!
It was always the plan to separate them at some point
If you read my other post about separating twins at school, you’ll have seen that I had originally intended to keep them together in Foundation then split them up in Year One or Year Two depending on what the teachers thought. I have never intended for them to be together for very long, it was more about easing them in gently. (But now I’m not being so nice!).
One of the reasons for this is that I want them to have a good few years in separate classes standing on their own two feet before they get to secondary school where they are very likely to be separated anyway for certain things. I know all twins are different, and who knows what they’ll be like by then. But when I posted about this whole decision on my Facebook page last year, the comments from you guys really made me think. Several people had said they’d not separated their twins whilst they were in primary school. Then when they’d got to secondary and were put in different classes they were distraught having never been apart. This really struck a chord with me and is one of the main factors in our decision making. So thanks for that!
‘Free flow’ will allow them to see each other lots anyway
At our school, Foundation is based around ‘free flow’ for about 80% of the children’s day. This means that both classrooms, plus a practical area and some outside undercover decking are all set up with different activities. All 60 children can go wherever they like. They don’t have to stay in their own classroom with their own classmates. This means that my boys will go in through different doors at the start of the day, then once registration etc is out the way, free flow will start and they can find each other immediately if that’s what they want. And I’m sure that’s what will happen to start with.
Until Twin One discovers the paint in the practical area and Twin Two finds the Mobilo in one of the classrooms. The fact they can spend most of the day together if they choose to, makes this whole decision far easier. If they miss each other, they will be able to find one another. If they’re fine, they can do their own thing independently. It’s like the best of both worlds. It’s when they get to Year One and there’s no free flow that they’ll find it hard. But I’m hoping they’ll be used to being apart by then. And obviously they can be together during playtimes.
Classes are usually mixed up each year
So this is a strange one, but actually was the final deciding factor. At our school the classes are mixed up every year, so children won’t stay in their group of 30 for the whole of their primary education. I like this idea a lot. And it was also one of the main reasons we thought it would be good to start our twins off together in Foundation knowing they could easily be split up without it being a big deal further down the line when the classes are mixed.
However, and this is where panic set in, a while back we got a newsletter saying that the classes were going to pretty much stay the same this September. Mainly because Covid had meant everyone had had a pretty unstable year and they didn’t want to cause any more disruption to the kids. I totally get that and think it’s the right thing to do.
BUT, this sent me into more than a little bit of a frenzy about what might happen in future years. It might all go back to normal and the classes could be mixed annually. It COULD also stay as it is and the classes remain the same. Fine if you aren’t intending to use that shake up to separate your twins. Not so good if you are.
This would mean that in Year One or Two when we want to split them, and if the school lets us, one of my boys would have to move class on his own. Away from his friends he’d made and the familiarity. Into the other class and be the ‘new boy’. It wouldn’t be a case of 15 kids all being ‘new’ and best mates being kept together. He’d be the only one. And I’d basically have to flip a coin to see which poor sod I chose to do that.
Whilst one got to stay happily where he was surrounded by his mates, one would have to start over again in a class where friendship groups had already formed. The thought of it made me cry. I just couldn’t do that to one of them. And I mean, how the hell do you choose which one?? On the flip side of that, if the classes aren’t mixed, the school might not even allow us to separate them down the line. Then our plan has TOTALLY backfired.
Decision has been made on separating twins at primary school
So the decision has been made to separate them from the word go to save this ever being an issue. It might feel harsh, and I admit I’m more nervous about them starting school now, than I was when we planned to keep them together. But for us and for them, I think we’re doing the right thing. If I had decided to keep them together I no doubt would have 2,500 words of waffle all about how that was the right thing for us too. There just isn’t a black and white right or wrong answer.
From a parent point of view it’s going to be a TOTAL PAIN IN THE ARSE, I’m sure. I am already struggling to remember which twin has got which teacher. Not helped by them introducing new class names too for me to hammer into my brain.
Dealing with two teachers (well actually three, as the main two don’t teach full time) isn’t going to be particularly easy. I’m sure there’ll be f*ck ups along the way when I get confused and forget something. But it’s no different to having two or three different aged children. The bit I’m already dreading is sending them into different doors on that first day. Albeit they are right next to each other. The teachers have said they can go in and come out the same one if it’s easier for me, but I want them to do it properly like their mates. Although we’ll see how that goes, especially if one is upset and then starts the other one off!
Their preschool teachers said without hesitation that they’d be absolutely fine. We’ve chatted a lot to the boys about them being in different classes and they seem totally okay about it. Well actually, they don’t seem to give a shit either way. Which is great! Annoyingly all the inductions have been cancelled due to Covid so they won’t have a chance to try it out beforehand. But I’m sure they’ll just get on with it.
It’ll be me sitting at home on that first morning, an emotional mess, wondering how they’re getting on away from each other.
Although I’ve invited some of the mums round to celebrate with a prosecco brunch, so I doubt I’ll be worrying TOO much…
Did you separate your twins or keep them together at school?
How did I do?
Did you enjoy this post? Why not hang around and read a few more whilst you’re here. Read my first post about separating twins at school here. Or I’ve got 10 Tips To Prepare Your Child For The Start Of School and Getting Your Four Year Old Ready To Start School. You might also find this tongue-in-cheek one funny, 10 Things I’ve Learnt In My First Term As A School Mum.
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I looked after several sets of twins when I was a registered child minder, so I know the bond that they can share#kcacols@_karendennis
It’s certainly something very special. However much they fight all day long!
This is a really interesting post. I don’t have twins but a friend of mine does and she is thinking along the lines of separating them to allow them to be recognised as individuals, I am certainly guilty of viewing them as a pair, separate to their siblings but not necessarily separate from each other so I think allowing them to develop in their own ways is helpful. Your school sounds amazing, free flow isn’t something I’ve heard of but sounds ideal for the twins.
We even do that – consider them seaparate from our eldest, but not from each other. We even call them “the other two” quite often! Fingers crossed we’ve made the right decision.
This is really interesting as I don’t have twins something that doesn’t cross my mind. But yeah I defiantely can see the benefits of seperatint your twins x #kcacols
Bless you – I don’t envy you trying to make this decision. I can see the pros and cons to both scenarios. Its funny I was actually just talking to a friend about how my sister and I went to different high schools as my parents let us decide where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. I love that we were given that independence and choice from an early age. #KCACOLS
Oh that’s amazing!