School Issues: Separate or Together
 

Melissa Miller

District Reporter 1B

 

 

Because of its 501C(3) non-profit status, NOMOTC does not lobby politically. The following article contains opinions of several parents of multiples from around the country; the personal views expressed are neither endorsed nor refuted by NOMOTC.

 

Separate or together? This is the age-old question that perplexes many parents of multiples. The answer is as different as our multiple birth children.

 

Dr. Nancy Segal, author and advocate of keeping multiples together says, "In our culture we appreciate uniqueness, and people wrongly equate twin closeness with a lack of individuality." She continues, "There's research that suggests that when friends are in the same class, they're more exploratory, they cling to the teacher less. So, if we are worried about individuality, why do we let best friends go to school together?" In a University of Wisconsin and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College in London research study, 878 pairs of twins from ages 5 to 7 found that twins separated early were observed to be more anxious and emotionally distressed than those who remained in the same class. This was especially true for identical twins.

 

Some psychologists and educators oppose keeping multiples together. They maintain that multiples can present themselves as a "de facto clique" upsetting the social dynamic of a classroom. They express concern with identical twins speaking in their own private language or one twin acting as an ambassador for the pair.

 

A couple of resources available through NOMOTC that promote the organization's position on issues affecting the education of multiple birth children include: Guidelines for the Education of Multiple Birth Children - a position paper directed toward educators that covers the basic tenets which are crucial to providing quality education and making equitable decisions for multiple birth children and their families, and Placement of Multiple Birth Children in School: A Guide for Educators. This is an NOMOTC-produced booklet that examines the topic of multiples in school, including separation, educational tools, learning styles and various viewpoints. It is a great tool for parents as well. NOMOTC also has its own (320 page) book, Twins to Quints, which is a complete guide for raising multiples from birth to adulthood. It contains an entire chapter on school issues with multiples. The above resources can be obtained by contacting NOMOTC's Executive Office at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 248.231.4480.

 

NOMOTC also offers a discussion board in the ‘Member's Only' section of its website. Members can post their questions/concerns on this board for other parents of multiples to respond. There is currently a ‘School Age Multiples' forum on the discussion board. Members need to obtain the user ID and password for the ‘Member's Only' section from their club's national representative.

 

Additionally, NOMOTC partners with various researchers who conduct studies of multiples in various arenas. One such researcher is John R., Mascazine Ph.D. He is the author of the book, Understanding Multiple-Birth Children and how they Learn: A Handbook for Parents, Teachers, and Administrators. Like NOMOTC's Twins to Quints, Dr. Mascazine's book is available through the Amazon link on NOMOTC's Home Page at http://www.nomotc.org/amazon/index.html

 

Miriam Schneider, president of the Manhattan MOTC (NY), became convinced that her children should be placed in different classrooms. "They have different skills, and we didn't want them constantly compared," Ms. Schneider said. The girls had been kept together during pre-school. When kindergarten came and they were separated, Ms. Schneider found they related more harmoniously in the evening than they had before.

 

Several MOMs from the St. Louis MOTC are currently dealing with the issue of school separation and different opinions. Sandra Ables, a triplet mom, has opted to separate her children because she believes they do better on their own. On the other hand, Melissa Roberson is anguished over what to do about her boy/girl twins when they start kindergarten, because her school district has a policy of mandatory separation of multiples. Melissa says, "I don't necessarily have a problem with separation, but I think they are people, not a policy." She believes that all schools should look at each set of multiples and decide placement on a case-by-case basis, doing what is best for them as individuals. On a personal note, I was told all of the reasons to separate listed in the beginning of this article by my twins' school. While it has been easier because they are in a private school, I continue to fight to keep my identical twin girls in the same class.

 

Kathy Dolan, a mother of twin boys from Queens, had one wish: she wanted her twin boys to face the new hurdles of numbers and letters together. With her own parents seriously ill, "...the boys had enough chaos and turmoil in their life, without being separated," Ms. Dolan said. Her request was denied until she produced a note from the boys' pediatrician recommending that they be kept together. She has since begun a diligent campaign for a Federal Twin Bill which advocates parental choice in school placement of multiples. So far nine states (NJ, CT, PA, GA, FL, CA, TX and MA) are on-board with petitions for this legislation. Kathy's information was featured in detail in the May 2006 issue of Twins Magazine. For more information visit www.twinslegislation.com.

 

What is best for each individual child is for each family to decide. It is up to parents of multiples (and singletons) to decide what is best for their children. There is no right or wrong answer in this debate. It all falls on the parents, who must make the best and most educated decision they can. They will then know that they have done their best.