preschool
 
Kindergarten For Multiples:
Together or Separate?

Despite the growing number of children attending preschool, many times a child's first official transition from staying home with mom or dad comes when he enters kindergarten. For most parents, sending their child into the unknown cavern of a kindergarten classroom can be a daunting experience. However, parents of multiples have the added dilemma of deciding whether to place the siblings in separate classes. The consensus on the subject is that, unfortunately, there is no consensus; there is no one-size-fits-all answer for every family.

As a first step in making the decision, many parents look to school officials for advice. Although within Connecticut there are no hard and fast rules on kindergarten separation for twins and higher-order multiples, tradition has long held that separation is best. More recent studies, however, show that a blanket policy may not be in the best interest of all multiples, and that each case must be decided jointly between educators and parents.

Parents who lean toward separation may have already noticed that one twin needs a separate place to blossom on his own. Or in the case of identical twins, parents choose separation to head off possible problems including bruised egos and a loss of identity that can occur when a teacher or classmate mistakes one child for the other. Some parents feel it is simply easier to concentrate on a child individually if both children are able to come home and share different tales of their school day.

Other parents feel it is best to keep multiples together, at least for the kindergarten year. They believe that separation would lead to the children's increased anxiety in the classroom. These parents worry that after being together their entire lives and learning all they have about the world with a constant partner at their side, twins would be traumatized by being thrust into such a stressful situation alone.

No matter which decision you feel is right for your multiples, plan to bring your concerns to the school principal before registering your children for school. Ask if the school has policies that dictate whether your children will be placed together or separately. If you do prefer to separate your multiples, you may need to be creative to achieve your goals. For half-day sessions, you may need to request that one child attend in the morning and one in the afternoon. And as more schools join the trend of offering only full-time kindergarten classes, your choices may become limited.

If after all the discussion and theorizing you are still in a quandary, trust your own judgment. Even if your initial choice elicits poor results, you can approach school officials about a change later on. Above all, it is your responsibility to be your children's best advocate as they embark on their journey toward a quality education, and they deserve the best start you can give them.

Resources:
Multiple Blessings, Betty Rothbart, MSW (William Morrow & Co., $12.00).

National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs (NOMOTC) booklet on school placement for multiples, 800.243.2276.

Parents Place Web Site: www.parentsplace.com/family/multiples.

 

Dawn-Marie Streeter of Milford is a freelance writer and the mother of four children, including one-year-old twins. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Connecticut Post and the New Haven Register.

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