0 comments on “Multiples in School”

Multiples in School

Pat Preedy became interested in school issues around multiple birth children in 1992 when nine sets of twins showed up at her school in Solihull, West Midlands, England to begin primary school. This brought the number to ten sets when added to the set already enrolled.

Pat Preedy, Ph.D., Key Note Speaker, Multiple Births Canada Conference, Ottawa, 23rd May, 2003, Submitted by Lynda P. Haddon

Pat began working with Professor David Hay of Australia and together, luckily for parents of multiples worldwide, created an important resource Web Site,www.twinsandmultiples.org, for parents asking the important question: should they be together or separated? Taking their research even further, Pat and David have also provided important feedback for educators in assisting each co-multiple to be the best they can be.

Pat began her talk by explaining that she and David had identified three main categories of multiples: Extreme Individual, Mature Dependent and Closely Coupled. Here are the traits as they identified them:

Extreme Individual

  • likes own friends, doesn’t share friends
  • plays mostly alone
  • opts out of the interaction if his co-multiple is successful
  • polarises his/her behaviour, goes to extremes (angel/devil)
  • is excessively competitive
  • dislikes co-multiple(s)
  • refuses to dress alike
  • tries to dominate

Mature Dependent

  • shared and separate friends
  • are happy either separated or together
  • supportive of co-multiple(s)
  • has developed as an individual with own identity
  • may choose the same or different interests from co-multiple(s)

Closely Coupled

  • unhappy when separated, want to be together most/all of the time
  • respond to each others’ names/group name, e.g. “Twinnie”
  • cannot recognize his/her image in the mirror
  • uses twin “language” (cryptophasia)
  • each slows down/speeds up to keep together, especially in school
  • few or no individual friends
  • combines to form a unit
  • dress and behave identically

Pat presented some ways to assist and support multiples in becoming individual thinkers, both by parents and educators alike

  • make individual eye contact so that each child is aware that you are speaking only to him/her.
  • use the child’s name at the beginning of the sentence, followed by your request or instructions. This gets his/her attention and there is no confusion for the children as to whom you are addressing.
  • ensure that each child speaks for her/himself and that the other does not do all/most of the talking/responding.
  • if you are having difficulty in “getting through” to one, both or all of the children, use play to engage them in conversation. Through playing a game with them, the parent or educator can create scenarios and engage a child, asking how they might respond, or what they might be feel if such a such a situation were to arise. When done through play, most children will let their guard down and express what they are thinking. A play situation vs an actual situation permits relaxed feedback from the child.

Pat reminded us that one of the “problems” experienced by multiples is their lack of privacy from each other. Pat cited an example: if the parents send one multiple to camp, they are usually sending two or three. Hence multiples do not have the same experience as if only one child was going to camp. Sent together they do not have time away from each other, are not encouraged to make individual friends or develop individual interests. They are inadvertently set up to continue to rely on each other and hence experience a lack of privacy from each other.

Pat stressed that both parents and teachers have the ability to assist multiple birth children in becoming the best they can be. Both need to be aware of the categories of twins as identified above and into which category each set of multiples may fall. When it can be determined as to how the multiples may be linked, both parents and educators can be properly assist and support the children reach their full potential. Pat advised that failure to recognize the challenges that multiples face from either being together or separate in their early schooling years is “unconscious incompetence.”

Pat’s talk was well attended by 100+ delegates, mostly parents, whose children are at or near school age and whom want to make the right decisions regarding their children’s class placement. Even though advance notice of Pat’s presentation was made several times to the local School Boards, including those up and down the Ottawa Valley and Eastern Quebec, attendance by educators was disappointing and pretty well limited to those with multiple birth children.

Schools don’t yet realize the part they can play helping/supporting multiple birth children and their parents with placement challenges. Nor do they recognize their important support role in assisting multiple birth children in making the transition into school and in separating from each other. The lack of representation for Pat’s Key Note and Workshop presentations from daycares, educators, principals and School Boards reinforces for me, that Boards underestimate and may not recognize the importance of their roles in class placement decisions, in being informed regarding the issues around multiples in school and therefore indeed function in an “unconscious incompetence.”

0 comments on “Multiples in School: Parent Tips”

Multiples in School: Parent Tips

Two concerns that arise for parents with multiple-birth children are whether they should be in the same class at school or separated, and which type of placement would benefit each child’s personal development.

In some schools there may be enough classes of the same grade to facilitate each child being in separate classes. It isn’t unusual for some schools to make the blanket policy that all multiples must be separated. In order to assist you with your decision making, the following offers some considerations for both leaving the children together as well as for separating them.

Pros to Separation

Although there is no substantial evidence to support the policy that multiples must be placed in separate classrooms in order for them to grow and develop as individuals, there are sometimes some circumstances which would indicate that separation is advisable. Here are some examples for when separation may be in the best interests of each child:

  • constant “togetherness” is hindering the development of social skills in one, both or more;
  • a “division of labour” exists;
  • insensitive comparisons by teachers, peers or even each other have led to feelings of inadequacy in one or more of the multiples;
  • the multiples form a “power unit” which is causing disruptive behaviour;
  • the kids use their multipleship to exploit, cheat or play tricks;
  • one or more of the multiples appears to resent the lack of privacy resulting from sharing a classroom;
  • one multiple proves to be a constant distraction to the other;
  • in opposite-sex multiples, the female is overprotective or “mothering” of the male co-multiple;
  • in skill grouped classrooms where the abilities of one multiple are far above those of his co-multiple; and
  • the multiples WANT to separate.

Wise parents and educators will realize that some of the above issues may be evident in one year and not the next. Evaluations/observations of multiples’ behaviour and development need to be regularly monitored.

Cons to Separation

Sometimes there are valid reasons for keeping multiples together:

  • major emotional upheavals may have occurred within the family, e.g. death, divorce, moving house, etc;
  • only one classroom is available;
  • unequal education due to two different teachers employing different methods of teaching;
  • multiples are at or near the same skill level in a skill-based classroom.

Recommendations regarding school placement

  • It is not recommended separating multiples who want to be together. Forced separation can damage self-esteem, inhibit language development and delay learning.
  • It is not recommended to automatically separate multiples in their first year of school. Such a separation adds to the stress of starting school and may actually increase the multiples’ need to be together.
  • All multiples need as much independence as they are ready to handle. Multiples flourish when allowed to separate on their own timetable. Together or not can be evaluated each year. As the multiples grow older, they themselves, will also have input as to whether or not they should be together.
  • Encourage multiples to choose separate classes and/or other activities as they gain confidence in the school situation.
  • Decisions as to whether or not the children should be together is best made by a “team” approach – the parents, the teachers and the principal. Educators need to realize that parents know their children best and it is important, for an easy transition to school, that a parental opinion be considered.
  • If multiples are in the same classroom due to lack of other classes, they can be in separate settings within the room;
  • The placement of each set of multiples needs to be evaluated on a family by family basis, placement evaluation needs to occur on a annual basis with parents, teachers and principals included in the decision-making. At some point, the children themselves will also have input into the decision.

Some Additional Considerations

  1. If your children look a lot alike or very similarly, dress them differently to make it easier for both teachers and peers to easily identify them. Different hair cuts or styles for girls can help too;
  2. Avoid referring to them as “the twins” or “the triplets” as this labels and reinforces them as a group and encourages the public to see them as such rather than the individuals they are;
  3. For parent/teacher interviews, make sure each child is described in comparison with their peers and not solely as compared to each other;
  4. If possible, scheduling parent/child interviews separately can be helpful in allowing you to focus on each child individually;
  5. Be a positive voice for your children and recognize their individual strengths as well as what may make the situation more challenging vis-à-vis them being multiples.

Pat Preedy (UK) provides this important note for Parents: “The critical thing is developing “mature dependence” which needs to begin as soon as the children are born. For multiples who are mature dependents, it actually doesn’t matter whether they are together or apart – they function as individuals and enjoy being a multiple.”

Sources

  • Multiples in School , Multiple Births Canada, Revised 1999
  • Placement of Multiple Birth Children in School , A Guide for Educators, National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, Inc., 1991

Additional Resources

Multiples in School Support Kit, Multiple Births Canada www.multiplebirthscanada.org

Website

www.twinsandmultiples.org, Educational Web Site for Multiples in School, Pat Preedy, M.Ed., B.Ed. (UK) and Professor David Hay (Australia)

Books

  • Parenting School-Age Twins and Multiples , Christina Baglivi Tinglof, 2007
  • The Joy of Twins by Pamela Patrick Novotny, 1988
  • Twins, Triplets, and More , Elizabeth M. Bryan, 1992
  • The Art of Parenting Twins , Patricia Maxwell Malmstrom and Janet Poland, 1999

 

0 comments on “Multiples in School: A Guide for Educators”

Multiples in School: A Guide for Educators

Parents of twins, triplets or more face a challenge as their children begin school: should they be together or separated?

Some schools have a policy based on the separation of multiples. Such a policy doesn’t allow for input from the parents nor the children themselves. Not all multiples want to be together and some do well together and need to be able to at least catch a glimpse of their co-multiple across the room to be the best they can be. The important thing is for them to develop “mature dependence.”

In order to assist Educators, the following offers a brief overview of both points of view, i.e. together or separate, and provides additional research material at the end of the article.

Reasons for Separation

While there is no substantial evidence to support the policy of separation in order for each child to grow and develop as individuals, sometimes circumstances exist which would indicate that separation is advisable. It is helpful to recognize that some behaviours may be an issue one year and not the next.

  • Their constant “togetherness” is hindering the development of social skills in one, both or all;
  • A “division of labour” exists;
  • Insensitive comparisons by others have led to feelings of inadequacy in at least one multiple;
  • A child’s problems are attributed to the fact that he is a multiple;
  • The multiples form a “power unit” causing disruptive behaviour;
  • Multiples exploit their multipleship to cheat or play tricks;
  • One multiple appears to resent the lack of privacy resulting from sharing a classroom;
  • One multiple proves to be a constant distraction to the other(s);
  • There is (excessive) competitiveness between the multiples;
  • In opposite-sex multiples, the female is overprotective of her male co-multiple(s);
  • In skill grouped classroom activities where the abilities of one multiple are above that of his co-multiple(s);
  • The multiples WANT to be separated.

Reasons for Not Separating

  • Major emotional upheavals have occurred within the family – i.e. death, divorce, move, new siblings, etc.
  • Only one classroom is available;
  • Unequal education due to different teaching styles of the educators;
  • Multiples are at or near the same skill levels in a skill-based classroom;
  • The multiples do NOT want to be separated. Forced separation, with all of the other “firsts” children face, especially in their first year of school, can add undue stress, regression and affect self-esteem.
  • Separation in the first year of school should not be an automatic decision. The added stress of separation with all of the other firsts (e.g. leaving Mom, rules, increased noise levels, schedules, new friends, etc.) might actually reinforce their need to be together.
  • Allow multiples as much independence as they are ready to handle. They flourish when allowed to separate on their own timetable.
  • Encourage them to choose separate classes as they gain confidence in the school situation.

Tips for Teachers of Multiples

  • Encourage them to sit apart for different class activities if they are in the same classroom. This assists you in identifying who’s who and discourages them from completing each other’s work;
  • Look for differences in the multiples, not sameness, e.g. voice differences, left/right handed, birthmarks, hair growth. Being able to address each multiple by their individual name, assists them in recognizing that they are individuals;
  • Refer to each child by their own name. This helps you identify each child and sets a good example for their peers to also address them individually;
  • Expect differences in test scores, neatness, behaviour but don’t be surprised if they are very similar;
  • Avoid insensitive comparisons, e.g. “You are not doing as well as your twin.” This sets up both multiples to have poor self-esteem;
  • For parent/teacher interviews, compare each child to their peer group and not to each other;
  • if you are having difficulty in telling the children apart ask the parents to dress them differently. This helps everyone recognize their individuality.
  • If one multiple (especially monozygotic [identical] multiples) is markedly behind his co-multiple, investigate the cause:
    1. Check to make sure that each multiple is doing his/her own work.
    2. Plan a conference with the parents to explore the situation.
    3. Don’t rule out the possibility of a learning disability in one of the multiples.

Recommendations Regarding School Placement

It is best if each set of multiples is evaluated each year to ascertain which is the best situation for them, i.e. together or apart. The final decision as to which it will be needs to be made by the parents, the teacher, the principal and at some stage, the children themselves.

Compiled and adapted from “ Placement of Multiple Birth Children in School, A Guide for Educators” a publication of National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, Inc., 1991

Additional Resources

Multiples in School , booklet by Multiple Births Canada,www.multiplebirthscanada.org
Multiples in School Support Kit by Multiple Births Canada http://www.multiplebirthscanada.org
Twinline Services, “ Twins in School: Together or Apart”, Berkeley, CA, 1983

Website

www.twinsandmultiples.org, Educational Web Site for Multiples in School, Pat Preedy, Ph.D., M.Ed., B.Ed. (UK) and Professor David Hay (Australia)

Books

  • Parenting School-Age Twins and Multiples , Christina Baglivi Tinglof, 2007
  • The Joy of Twins , Pamela Patrick Novotny, 1988
  • Twins, Triplets and More , Elizabeth M. Bryan, 1992
  • The Art of Parenting Twins , Patricia Maxwell Malmstrom and Janet Poland, 1999