Parents of multiples have to make decisions regarding their children in duplicate or triplicate. Once multiples reach school-age, one of the questions parents must face is whether to keep their children together in the same class during the early elementary years or separate them into two different classrooms.
The classroom assignments of multiples is largely the decision of parents. But in some cases, educators may simply assign classes to students on a performance-based or random system. If parents of multiples have specific requests about whether their children are together or separate, these will need to be brought to the attention of school personnel.
There are advantages and disadvantages to keeping kids together or separating them in the classroom. Although there are no statistical benefits or detriments to the multiples classroom decision, common sense and personal sentiments can help parents come to a consensus on which way to go.
The National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs (NOMOTC) and other experts advocate keeping multiples together, especially in early elementary years. Those who are not twins can relate to the desire of entering school with a close companion. Think about how much easier the first days of kindergarten might have been if you had a buddy that was guaranteed to be in the same class.
Many studies have been conducted on multiples, and there is some evidence that they have a unique bond and may even be able to communicate with one another on a level different from other types of siblings. This relationship can be comforting in the school setting. Also, if separating the children means it will cause undue stress, there's no point in separating them. Others say that it may be discriminatory. Forcing multiples to separate may give the children the sense that there is something wrong with being a multiple.
Having multiples together is also easier on the parents. Students are assigned the same work, the lessons are the same, and the children can help each other with homework and projects. This can make it easier for parents to manage the responsibilities of having children of the same age in school at the same time.
Whether they like it or not, twins and other multiples often garner a lot of special attention. Having one another there can take some of the pressure off of being the center of attention.
All of the things that make being together in the classroom advantageous can also be detriments, depending on an individual's point of view.
Young multiples spent all of their time together as youngsters. Forcing them to do so in school may hinder their abilities to develop as individuals or make friends outside of their immediate circle. Just as it is often advisable not to dress multiples exactly the same, the same concept applies to keeping kids together in the same classroom.
If keeping multiples together raises behavioral concerns, it may be best to separate kids at school. Sometimes multiples, as with any other siblings, tend to be partners in crime. Having two in cahoots in a classroom setting may put a teacher at a disadvantage. It can also distract the siblings and may hinder learning.
Multiples who are identical may look so similar that it is difficult for teachers and those outside of the family to tell them apart. This can cause undue stress on the multiples who are frequently mistaken for their brothers or sisters. Teachers may insist on the children wearing something to distinguish themselves from one another, which raises the discrimination issue again. Separating the twins makes this a nonissue.
Almost from birth, multiples are often compared to each other. Having the siblings in the same classroom opens them up to direct comparison. They'll be directly compared on every test and assignment. While this can promote healthy competition, it can also create feelings of animosity against each other, particularly in the multiple who is falling behind the other.
Having multiples is a unique experience. As the children grow and enter school, there are new challenges to face. These may be accomplished as a team unit by having the children in the same classroom or foster individuality by separating them.