(The following is from a forum topic started on our member site. Please feel free to add to this discussion below or on the forum in Big Tent if you are a member.)
Suggestions/Ideas for Being a Twin in School:
So we’ve recently been looking into early pre-school/day care options for my 2 year old girls since my job is changing a little bit. Trying to find a great spot for 1 or 2 mornings a week (any Beaverton/Hillsboro suggestions would be amazing!)
But my main question is this…I was wondering if you all have any ideas or suggestions on how to keep the twin thing from becoming the main attraction. We’ve only been on one tour so far, and everyone was super nice but they all were like “oh my gosh…twins…look kids, they’re twins!!!”
I’m pretty sensitive to my girls’ identity being defined soley by being identical twins. We don’t use the term twin at home (they’re just sisters) and at this point they don’t even know what it means to be a twin. I just want them to be looked at as the little people that they are and not always lumped in together with the twin thing. I know it’s not going to happen most of the time, but that’s my hope for them anyway.
Is this a type of thing that goes away once they get settled into a place?
Is this something that you’ve ever brought up with school/daycare/preschool? How’d you go about it? Or am I just thinking too much about stuff that I’m not going to be able to control anyway? (I tend to do that!)
Any thoughts or advice is much appreciated!
I was thinking about this last night. It was a little different situation. The neighbor boys were playing outside and they came over and introduced themselves. The neighbor just recently got married and added 2 more boys to the already 4 that live there. So they introduced themselves as brothers and their names. Cami and Ty introduced themselves as this is my sister and this is my brother. Cami was real cute and put her arm around Ty and said ” This is my brother Ty”, He was slightly embarassed and brushed her arms off, mostly probably because that isn’t a very “dude” thing to do I guess. But never once did they mention that they are twins. I was kind of waiting for it, because everywhere we go they get dropped into that category. However to them we are just brother and sister. It was a neat moment, wish I could of had a video camera.
I think this is hard no matter what way you look at it. From the fraternal twin standpoint, I want to shout from the rooftops that they are twins, so no one assumes Logan is the dumb older brother who got help back in school (he has 3+ inches on Zach, so they don’t look like “twins”).
I think it’s a difficult thing to do with identical twins. They are a rarity, and I think that you have to remember you were blessed. People feel like they need to say something or acknowledge it because it is so “cool”. The girls will go through their life having to figure out how to deal with it, so I think the best think you can do is educate them on how to respond. They might be a little young now, but when they are older, they will have different interests. So, maybe when they are in Kindergarten and someone says are you twins? They can respond with, yes we are sisters. I like to play on the swings and my sister love the slide, do you want to come swing with me (or something that indirectly says they are different people).
Not dressing them the same (even coordinating), or having the same haircuts will help others see them as different people too. The easier it is for others (like little kids) to tell them apart, the easier it will be to treat them as separate people (IMO). If you find a preschool large enough, you could split them up in classes as well…
Enough of my rambling!
So glad you asked this. My identical girls are 4.5 and I’m starting to think (worry/obsess) about kindergarten. They have been in preschool for a year. I was very concerned initially about them being lumped together and kept checking in with their teacher. I tried to stress their individuality, and very quickly the teachers made a point of keeping them separate when talking about them, which eased my fears (i.e., they didn’t talk about them as a unit). Initially, they were very shy and tended to do their work together, wanted to go to the art studio at the same time, etc. After a few months, they really started to become confident, have their own friends, and do their own thing. I cannot believe how much more outgoing and assertive they’ve become.
HOWEVER, some kids still cannot tell them apart, and I’ve noticed some kids call them “twins.” As in “Hi Twins!” Gag, sob. They get asked constantly about being twins (as I am sure yours do) and they are very aware of it now. I definitely agree with you, I don’t want that to define them or make them feel that is why they are special.
I don’t know what the answer is really. I am hoping at one point one will want to have a different hairstyle (they both like it long) right now. However, I do not let them wear the same thing to school (I don’t buy them “matching” things, but there are certain dresses, etc., they both love and want). Recently, they’ve started trying to fool kids and teachers on purpose and think it’s very funny. I guess they should be able to have some fun with it!
Anyway, I think being in the same preschool class (for us) was good. Their teacher pointed out (in our case, I’m not making ANY blanket statements) it didn’t make sense to force them apart and pretend their bond didn’t exist. However, as we get closer to kindergarten, I am seriously thinking about separating them. They constantly compare themselves to each other, and I realize some kids, just like adults, can tell them apart easily, and others just can’t.
Didn’t mean to go on and on. Obviously these things have been on my mind as well!
My girls are fraternal, but they look similar and are often seen as one entity or mixed up. Over the year, teachers, parents, and students have gotten to know the girls individually, and the twin thing is less of a focus. I would be annoyed if their classroom teacher couldn’t tell them apart or didn’t know their personalities, but she’s been amazing. Dressing them differently or doing their hair differently can really help – especially at the beginning. I think that people are genuinely curious about multiples and have their funny/strange questions and comments no matter where you are.
We did have the option of separating the girls, and I’m very glad we didn’t. They’d been together at home for their first 2.5 years, and it didn’t seem right to split them up in a crazy new environment. Their class of 8 students is incredibly close, and I tend to think it’s because of the bond the girls had going in to the school year. They have plenty of together time in class, but they also split up and play in different areas with different kids outside (I’ve also heard that every so often they check in with each other).
I think it will be interesting to ask the older twins at the panel discussion (Aug. 18) if the extra attention from being a twin bugged them or if they even noticed.
Our girls went to pre-k together and will be in the same class in kindergarten this fall. Make sure they dress different as this will help the teachers and other kids. My girls also like their hair different…one ponies and braids…the other just long and flowing…at one point they had very different hair lengths by their choosing.
There was another set of id twins in their class…they are boys and were dressed completely identical down to the glasses. My daughters both shared that nobody could tell the boys apart but they knew which of my girls was who because we have created an environment of individuality at our house.
Their teachers worked really hard not to confuse them and mark their art and photos correctly…and if they made a mistake and discovered it, they apologized!
We have already started conversations with their kinder teacher as we have discovered the best thing to do is help their teachers learn who they are so they can tell them apart and see each girl as she is and what she excels at or enjoys.
We have shared to the girls they are twins but we almost never use that term, they are the little girls in comparing to their older sister. I cringe when others call them “the twins” And if you were to ask them who was born first…their response would be to point to the older sister and say “her”!
Our identical girls are 8 1/2 and heading into 3rd grade. They were together in pre-K, kinder and first grade but chose to try separate classes in 2nd grade and have no preference for 3rd grade so I assume they will be separated. We were also concerned that they not be viewed as a unit but people can’t help but do that, especially when they don’t know who is who. In pre-k, their classmates were so young that the idea of a twin didn’t really mean much to them although they had a hard time telling our girls apart. It was the parents who were flustered because they didn’t want to make a mistake and call them by the wrong name or were just thrilled with the novelty of twins and didn’t try to tell them apart. The pre-k teachers were very good about seeing the two separate girls and rarely mixed them up.
In Kinder and 1st grade, I made a point of styling their hair differently for the first few weeks (one girl always wore pigtails, the other girl kept her hair down) and I didn’t let them wear anything remotely alike in order to give their classmates and teachers a chance to know them as individuals. After a few weeks, I’d let the girls decide what they wanted to wear. Sometimes they “wanted to be twins” (their term) and would dress alike or matching, sometimes they wanted to be individuals and chose different clothing but I left it up to them and that is still the case.
In Kinder, they were used to their classmates guessing who they were, even 3/4 into the school year but their teachers usually knew who they were and so did their close friends. By 1st grade, the kids who had been with them in Kinder would help the new classmates figure out who was who and by 2nd grade, they were in separate classes so it was a piece of cake (except when they had reading and were in the same group, then it was the teachers who weren’t always sure instead of the kids).
The big difference with my girls is that while they are identical, one has always been taller than the other and at this point she has 2″ and 10 lbs on her sister but they do look alike (the size difference due to Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome in utero). It is easy to tell them apart when they are side by side but just a few feet apart makes it a challenge unless you really know them. We (meaning my husband & I) also don’t refer to them as “the twins”, they are always the girls or the kids. Family members don’t use “the twins” term when speaking to us but they do when they speak to anyone but us! I think I worried more about this when my girls were still forming their identities but not so much now. They are similar in temperament but still distinct individuals, enough so that even their classmates see two people and not just a unit.
A funny side note…I was older when I had our girls, hadn’t been in Oregon long and I didn’t know anyone with kids so our girls’ early socializing was only with Moms I had met through FHM and the social activities FHM provided. The first time my girls had a playdate with a singleton, they kept looking around their new friend and finally asked, “Where’s your twin?” To them, they couldn’t fathom not having a twin because every kid they had met until then was a twin.
Wow thank you guys for such great feedback and thoughtful ideas. So much to think about. I think it will continue to be such a fine line for us between encouraging their individuality while at the same time embracing the special twin bond that they have.
I can’t wait to ask the twin panel and get their perspective.
I’m so grateful for this group of people to turn to when I go crazy second guessing everything I’m doing! Thanks again everyone!!
(As a side note from Kim: Our monthly meetings are open to members and prospective members. This month’s meeting on August 18, will feature a Twin Panel with twins from a range in ages addressing your questions. Please sign up to attend on Big Tent if you have not already, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a prospecitve member and would like to attend.)