Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Twins in school

I know it is a little premature to be thinking about my yet to be 2 year olds attending school, but I couldn't help myself the other day when I was assisting with 'reading' at Nugget's school.

There is a set of twins in his class you see and I had the pleasure of both of them reading to me. They are lovely girls, but like mine, you wouldn't know they are sisters, let alone twins, by looking at them. I couldn't help but notice that one was significantly more fluent with her reading than the other. I am not judging the girls, neither is struggling in the way some kids are, I just noticed. And it got me thinking, what would I do?

How would I handle it with my twins?

Of course, there is a high probability that with twins you are going to face the conundrum of unequal ability in the classroom, or somewhere else like the sports field, at some point. If it is not reading, it'll be something else.

It happens with all siblings of course, but I can't help but think that having an age-matched peer right there while you are struggling along wouldn't help your confidence much.

As parents our role is to help our kids accept themselves. Warts and all. We aren't meant to compare and contrast the skills and foibles of our children. As humans it is near impossible not to notice, but I guess we have to help our kids keep things in perspective. It ain't an easy gig.

I was lucky to bump into the twin girls' Mum on Friday. We have bonded over the Mums-of-multiples thing so I felt comfortable raising my observation with her and asking her how she was handling it. I really wanted to take the opportunity to learn from her.

She said that she has to spend more time helping the less accomplished reader with her homework (which of course results in a "But why don't I have to read to you twice" from the other one. She also spends time reassuring the struggling one and pointing out things that she did 'first' as a baby e.g. crawling. Reinforcing the mantra that we 'all learn differently'. She also spends a lot of time praising the one who is managing well, trying to ensure continued interest in reading and motivation to keep learning. She also makes sure they do different extra-curricular activities so that direct comparison isn't the norm e.g. one learns the violin while the other learns the cello.

The key? She spends a lot of time with her girls.

Even if you don't compare your children, chances are other people will.

I'm thinking it is best to develop strategies for dealing with the hurt now. That way once I am put to the test, I'll be an old hat.

Have you had this issue in your family? What about when you were growing up? What strategies do you/did your parents use to manage it?

10 comments:

Maxabella said...

I think you're lucky that your twins are a boy and a girl as that will help. Two girls or two boys are likely to generate even more comparisons. I know from the experience of my brother and sister in law that it still isn't easy, but it does help that they are different genders for sure. x

Andrea said...

This topic scares me! As much as I try not to compare Molly and Luke it is hard not to worry when one does something before the other one. Luke was always weeks ahead of Molly when it came to the first milestones (sitting,crawling,walking), so I always had the fears in the back of mind....what if something is wrong. Granted my twins were born 12 weeks early, so maybe that is why my mind has always wonder to the extreme. She caught up by 18 months. They are 2 & 1/2 now and she has surpassed him in the speaking department, so guess what? My Mom mind now has the fear he is behind on speaking. Don't get me wrong he talks alot, but Molly speaks in longer sentences than him. Luke knows his numbers better than Molly. I can point at the numbers 1-10 and he tells me what they are. Molly still doesn't count past 3. As you said this wouldn't be an issue if we didn't have 2 the exact same age under 1 roof. I know all kids develop differently. Like you..... I worry about them feeling less adequate than the other. I as their Mother will do everything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen, but it is a fear that has been on my mind for a while. Very good post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the issue.

Maxabella said...

PS - that Tuesday blog hop was the biz!!! x

life in a pink fibro said...

I think all you can do is reinforce the differences to help them cope with the similarities. Maxabella is right - the fact that they're different sexes has to help.

Gill@OurParklife said...

Yes, I agree that the different genders will help....My two boys are pretty close in age and already we and people around us seem to compare them...It's tough

I always did better than my younger brother in primary school but then he ended up coming out of high school and uni with much better grades than me...so I guess you never know where things will lead...

I think our mum and dad tried to make us resilient, regardless of how well we were or weren't doing...And my experience as a teacher has taught me that often the kids who learn how to work hard at something succeed over the kids with natural "talent" who may be inclined to think they do not have to try!!

Gill@OurParklife said...

Oh and yes, the Friendly Friday Follow was a little scary...we have not done it again since the first time!

Gill xo

Verity said...

My twins are 5 1/2 and just started kindergarten, so I don't have too much academic stuff to compare yet. However, we did have the situation in skiing this past year. LittleBug is clearly faster and more daring. This did not seem to bother her sister, LadyBug, at all, thank goodness. We ended up spending more time with LadyBug so she could keep up with all of us so that made her special.

We also had the first instance of separate activities. LadyBug decided to switch from gymnastics to ballet. Ballet, of course, came with cute outfits and recitals. LittleBug never expressed jealousy to me - just that she was so proud of her sister. The adults, namely Grandmom, had a hard time with it and kept doing things like trying to get an "extra" recital outfit for LittleBug, etc.

I know what you mean about worrying about the future. I know it will happen that one ends up being better/faster, etc. at something. I hope I figure out how to handle it!

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

Great post! You know I worry about comparisons. :) As our pediatrician said, in comparing two children, someone's always last. :)

I struggle with this point, even now, at 20 months. B seems to be more verbal (she always has been, going way back to the beginnings of coos and babbles). If I'm not careful, I find myself just asking her, "Can you say 'dizzy'?" I try to remind myself to ask A those questions just as often, even though she's not as likely to be able to do it as B.

In contrast, A seems more physically / spatially gifted. I have to be careful to try to encourage B to work on stacking blocks and turning in circles.

I hope I can rear the girls to be confident in their own unique abilities, so that when they are inevitably compared, it won't be a knock to their self esteem.

Rebecca said...

This is very interesting. Matt has passed all of his milestones before Hailey, but there are things that she can do very well. It's amazing to see how the attack problems differently and what their tactics are. I can't wait to watch it all play out and see where I can step in (and where I shouldn't).

katepickle said...

oh poop I wrote a nice long reply to this post and it didn't work!

Anyway... the short of it... our girls are identical and very similar. They started school this year and are in the same class (because they can not function apart) and we've been struggling with similar issues off and on. Reading levels is a big one in our house...

I wrote a post about it when it first happened...
http://picklebums.com/2010/04/16/green-dots-and-fairness/

and we are still working on this whole 'fairness' concept....

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