Time spent at school is an important part of everyone’s life. For multiple-birth children, the presence of their co-multiple(s) may bring additional challenges, often starting with the question of whether it is better to keep them in the same class or to separate them. It is important to remember that there are other educational issues to consider such as the ability and progress of multiples relative to each other as well as to other children. Adolescence and secondary school bring additional challenges to the multiple-birth family as the young people become independent and develop separate interests and aspirations.
In 2009 we were very privileged to have David Hays share his research in this area with us at the Hutt Valley Multiples NZConference (previously NZMBA). It is with his blessing that we are able to share with you his website, which is by far the most comprehensive education-based website available worldwide for multiples. We are sure you will find this very helpful when it comes to answering questions in this area.
Along with the ability to access his research studies, you will also find coverage of the following multiple-specific issues within education such as common myths about separation, the ability to reverse decisions, the differences between home and school, the importance of communication, and the involvement of your children in the decision to keep them together or to separate them. He has also recognised that additional issues may also arise for boy/girl pairs, higher order multiples and when one child is delayed.
In 2012 school placement of multiples and issues regarding whether separation or not is best, was the focus of the International Multiple Birth Awareness Week. Through this campaign it was recognised that one of the challenges faced by parents of twins, triplets and more is to foster the unique development of each child while encouraging the unique bond between their children. This concern also applies to teachers with multiples in their classrooms; however the challenge within the school may be complicated by preconceived opinions of educators, the number of students in the school, and the number of twins, triplets or more involved.
We believe decisions about classroom placement of multiples should be made annually, on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with the parents of the children concerned and the children themselves. Just as each child is unique, each set of multiples is unique. Some multiples thrive in separate classes; others in the same class. Similarly, what works for a given set of multiples one year might not work the next year. Therefore, the Multiples NZ and ICOMBO believe that blanket policies on this issue – either for separate or same-class placement – are inappropriate. Further supporting documentation derived for this campaign can be accessed here.
Getting Ready for School
Is that time approaching? Are you starting to worry about the academic skills your child has or has not acquired, and just how they are going to measure up? Have you stopped and thought about the fundamental movement skills your children have developed, and the importance of these skills to enable your children to acquire higher learning skills such as reading, writing and mathematics? Put those pencils down – a must-read article based of the work of Gill Connell!
This school or that school?
Do you have a choice of schools for your multiples? How do you decide which is the best option? Nicci Coffey talks about how she navigated her way through this decision.
Meeting the needs of Multiple Birth Children
There has been a significant increase in the number of twins and higher multiples so that one child in 33 is now a multiple. It is therefore not unusual for schools to have several sets of twins as well as triplets. By being the same age and in the same school year if not class, twins and higher multiples are not like brothers and sisters born closely together. Teachers and parents need to be aware of particular issues that may affect the physical, intellectual, personal, social and emotional development of multiple-birth children, and to ensure that school policy and practice include this special group of children and parents. These issues include: preterm birth catch-up, and implications for starting school; the balance of competition and cooperation among multiples; separation in school and the evidence from recent longitudinal studies; legislative and other initiatives on the development of school policy; the particular needs of higher multiples.
Multiples and secondary school
What is different about being a multiple at adolescence? How do you achieve independence from one’s co-multiple(s)? What are the effects of stereotyping in the family and at school? The selection of subjects and careers and maintaining your independence while doing the same things as your twin.