School has been very much on my mind this week – it often is, usually because I am trying to work out what upcoming event I have completely forgotten about for my eldest boy. But this was also the week that we, like many others, found out about primary school places for September. I’ll be honest, it didn’t seem quite as big a deal this time around as it did the first time – I was pretty confident that my twin boys would get a place at the same school as their big brother, and they did.
And so they will be off in September – two little school boys joining their big brother. Three years ago I couldn’t even imagine getting to this point.
There is a lot to think about for all parents when their children are about to start school, but for parents of twins there is also the together-or-apart question to consider. I don’t think there is really a right answer – the ‘apart’ fans argue that by being separated, twins get space to develop their own personalities and friendships. When one twin is more dominant than the other, separating them is often seen as beneficial. The ‘together’ fans say that many twins feel more secure and confident when they’re together. Both are equally valid and, of course, what I think is right for my twins might not be right for another set. But there is a side of it that you don’t often read about, and that is the logistics of the whole thing.
Until my eldest one, now 5, started school, I was firmly of the opinion that my twins would be going into separate classes when their turn came. But then we got into the swing of school drop offs and changing reading books and remembering the reply slip for the next school trip, and I realised that starting school isn’t actually as straightforward as I had first thought; that there would be all sorts of logistical challenges when the twins started which hadn’t even occurred to me previously. So I changed my mind, and am now adamant that they will be staying together – for the first year at least.
If you’re yet to make a decision, let me give you a few extra things to consider……
Do not under-estimate the logistics of the school drop-off
Drop off will rarely be a drop-at-the-gates scenario. For a start, getting just one child settled into school can be a draining experience and an anxious time for parents. I’m expecting it to be even more so with two at a time. But there is also how drop off works to consider. At our school, parents can take their child into the classroom where they then then have the option of staying for 10 minutes for ‘Busy Fingers’ – the first activity of the day. For those who are able to stay, this is a lovely thing to do; but I realised it would be a logistical nightmare if my twins were in separate classes. Unless I had twins who were happy to take it in turns to have mummy join them for Busy Fingers (cue distraught child lying plank-like on the floor at drop-off time ), the only fair thing to do would be to skip Busy Fingers all together. Which seems a shame doesn’t it.
So before making a decision about whether to keep your twins together or separate them, find out about drop off arrangements during Reception. Do you take the children into the classroom? If so, will dropping off to two different classrooms make things difficult for you? Are your twins likely to be hanging off your legs or arms? Mine certainly are, and I will be peeling them off me in one classroom rather than going through it twice.
How many birthday parties??
30 children in a class, many of whom have invite-the-whole-class birthday parties – particularly in Reception. Twins in separate classes means double the number of birthday parties. That’s a potential pool of 60 children.
Just a thought.
Oh, and possibly double the number of playdates to think about too.
There is just SO MUCH STUFF TO REMEMBER!
School is full-on. It really is. Assemblies, cake bakes and stay & plays; assemblies, school trips and come as you like days. Changing reading books and returning reply slips and remembering the date of the next show & tell. There is always something to remember. I have decided that trying to keep on top of what is going on in two (actually, three if you also include the eldest) different classrooms is too much for my head, and that I stand a slightly better chance of success if my twins are, at least, in the same class and have things happening at the same time with the same teacher.
These might all seem like little things but added together they make something quite big and after a little bit of thought it became quite obvious that for everyone’s sanity, keeping my boys together would be easier for everyone.
And of course, there’s also this……
Twins are lucky
They have each other. They can hold hands on the first day of school, and I fully intend to take advantage of this. I used to think my twins would run into school and never look back – I’m now not so sure that they will. These days, before saying goodbye they tend to hang off my legs and say ‘but I need ANOTHER CUDDLE’ 34 times (each). And I think they may also have twigged that school involves a certain amount of something called sitting down, which they’re not big fans of. So I feel reassured that they will have each other and that, initially, this will make the transition easier for them. They’re happy together and they’ve never really been split up for any period of time. I don’t want to make starting school harder than it has to be for them.
So for now, I have decided my boys are definitely better together. I am going for ease and less stress all round. Who knows – they might distract each other if in a class together, but equally they might spend all day wondering what their brother is up to if they’re separated. If it turns out that they’re not good together in the classroom, we can split them up in Year 1 once they have made friends and are familiar with their surroundings. No harm done – they’re only little and have plenty of time to be developing their independence, which I’m confident will happen in its own time.
So yes, think about what will suit your twins but don’t feel bad about taking the more practical considerations into account as well. School is a huge change for everyone, so I’m all for making it as easy as possible.