Twins & Kindergarten: Why We’re Separating

I’m pretty sure the first time someone asked me if I thought I would put my twins in the same school classroom was when I was still pregnant. I couldn’t tell you what my exact answer was, but I’m certain had zero idea how I would feel when the time came. That question stuck with me however. My kids were running around in diapers when I first started researching what other twin moms were doing. I read every argument for every side: statistics that showed why twins did better together; psychologists who offered their opinions on how this would affect them later in life; and educators who sided with the idea of separation.

It all seemed a little overwhelming, so I closed my laptop and thought, “Eh, I have time.”

Here’s the funny thing about time though: it sneaks up on you like a mad crazy train. Fast-forward to this week and I am here with two five-year-olds who are about to walk into their elementary school for the first time. They’ll never look back, and for better or worse, we’ve decided to separate them.

Actually, I have no question it’s for the better, because when I say “we decided” I mean all four of us decided together. My husband and I first decided to start talking about what to do when the kids had a kindergarten screening at their pre-school. When Olivia was asked a question to which she didn’t know they answer, she’d say, “Oh, Ollie knows that.” Like, only one of us needs to know that, right?

Shortly after this screening, we sat down with our kids individually and talked to them about kindergarten and asked if they would want to be in the same class with their sibling. We asked Olivia first and we weren’t surprised when she said she might want to try being in a class separate from Oliver. She makes friends easily, is such a social butterfly and we’ve seen her enjoy being around other girly girls. It really surprised me however, when Oliver said the same thing. He admitted that he might be a little shy, but that he was ready to try being in a classroom without his sister too.

I admit that, at first, their answers made me a little sad.

I have heard so many stories of twins who want to be together all the time and who hate the idea of not being together all day. Did I do something wrong? Is it terrible that they don’t seem to have that kind of relationship? But then I thought about all the times I’ve picked them up from pre-school and one kid would tell me a story from something awesome that happened that day and the other kid would cry because they wanted to be the one to tell me that story. And I thought about how nice it will be that they will have their own stories to tell every day from here on out. We’ve worked really hard to encourage individuality, so why am I fighting that now?

My twins are so different from one another.

I imagine this to be true of most twins, but being different sexes they have such different interests, different ways of learning and different ways of loving. Olivia is my whimsical dreamer, my creative soul, my fearless lover. She will color and create for hours if you let her and she’ll daydream about the days ahead. She’ll tell you she loves you out of the blue ten times a day and without any prompting. Oliver is my logical thinker, the one who needs to know how or why something is the way it is, my numbers guy. He doesn’t want to just be told the score of a baseball game; he needs to study the entire scorecard to see in what inning runs were scored. If you tell him something once, he remembers. Any time there’s a question about something and he gives me answer, I always believe him because he’s pretty much always right.

At the end of the day, they don’t need the comparisons to each other anymore. They are smart and kind and capable in their own ways. If Oliver starts learning to read before Olivia, they could be learning at a different pace having different teachers. If Olivia gets praised for something she created, Oliver won’t come home crying because he didn’t get the same praise. My hope and prayer is that they’ll learn to be proud of each other and they’ll rush home to tell each other all the events of the day. And they’ll genuinely be happy for one another.

Another question I’m asked often is whether my kids are best friends, and oh my goodness they are! They love each other beautifully and they love to build this imaginary world together, one which only the two of them truly understand. When they were babies, they would sit back to back and play, so even if they weren’t playing together, they knew the other one was there. They take care of and look out for each other in ways that make me so proud to be their mom. I’ve often worried that keeping them together AND separating them could destroy all of that. But, I finally have a peace about the journey that lies ahead for all of us, and I’m trusting to believe this will make their bond even stronger.

You can find just about anything to back up whatever you decide with your twins — reasons to keep them together and reasons to separate them immediately. But my advice will always be to listen to the things that matter: your kids and your gut. Everything else will work itself out.

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