Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Massachusetts Twin Bill and other Multiples Rants

I'm about to wade into treacherous waters - politics. There is a new bill making its way through the Massachusetts Senate about multiples in the classroom. Here is a link to a recent Boston Globe article. It advocates letting parents decide whether to put their multiples in one classroom.

Among other reasons, parents want to keep their children together because it is easier for homework management and because the 2 (or more) of the kids support each other in the classroom.

On the homework front - suck it up. I mean, you may have had children 1 year apart instead of twins, right? Does it really matter? Aren't we doing too much homework/helping our kids anyway (or so I read - must have been a different era but I don’t remember my mom helping me with homework).

With respect to the "support" network I see that might be useful for the first year if they have switched to a new school. My sisters and I were in the same first grade class in Andover but after that we were not (my mom mentioned this was because there were only 2 classes and she didn't want to have to decide who would get to be by themselves). It was a little odd in our case since we "switched" classes for different subjects starting in 2nd grade (some sort of pilot program) and once in a while 2 of us would end up in the same subject. I think it is hugely important to foster independence in twin and higher order multiple children and I won't want my kids in the same class so I won't be as tempted to compare them (nor have their teachers compare them). Certainly I will insist if one is sick the other pick up assignments, books, etc. - I had to do that with my sisters and that would go regardless of age if they were in the same school.

I should note that I'm not actively against this legislation. It really should be the choice of the parents so in principle I do agree with the bill, I just think separating kids is fine and I would probably encourage it for my kids. Once they hit high school if they are similar academically they will probably end up in the same classes anyway since there are usually only a limited number of AP/honors (here's hoping my kids are smart!).

There was also this interesting article at the New York Times about multiples going to the same college. I think unless finances require it (eg, they both end up at UMass) I hope my kids wouldn't go to the same school. My sisters and I still talk about the set of twins who went to the same college and roomed together.

One other thing - I've seen this proliferation among moms of twins of having their twins tested to determine if they are identical (just because you have 2 placentas doesn't mean you don't have identical twins, contrary to popular belief). While obviously our boy/girl twins are fraternal I really wish parents understood what ramifications they were undertaking when doing this testing. My sisters and I have never been tested and we don't want to be. We assume we are fraternal triplets. Yes, two of us look quite a bit alike but there are differences (at least to us). Assuming we are fraternal made it easier when friends and extended family constantly compared us - that we were our own person and not 1/2 of a whole (which is how everyone thinks of identical twins). I know some parents think "oh, wouldn't that be special if they were identical" but no, it's not. Stacey and I always wanted to look different from each other - very jealous of Allie's blue eyes that marked her as sister instead of possible "identical twin".

I just think parents don't often ask themselves - what would my kids want so I wanted to put out there a perspective of a grown-up multiple.


Anonymous said...

You say "parents don't ask themselves 'what would my kids want,'" but it's not about what they want. It's not even about what you want. It's what will be best for them, regardless of who wants it.

I can see the advantages and disadvantages of putting twins in the same class together. I think as long as the parents are given enough information to make an informed decision, it should be their choice to keep the kids together or separate them.

Mommy, Esq. said...

What I meant in that last line of course was "what is best for their kids" not what "their kids want". I doubt a kid knows what he wants at that age (although I'm sure he or she would have opinions). Blame the editor on my slip up. :)

Anonymous said...

What would you do with your twins if one of them was a little developmentally behind for starting school at age 5? Would you let the "smarter", "ready" twin enter school and keep the "challenged" kid behind? Or, would you put them both in a "starter program" and delay K for both so that they are in the same grade?

Mommy, Esq. said...

Anonymous asks an excellent question. I have actually thought about that since I have friends who "stayed back" in first grade and still talk about it to this day. I just don't think you could do that to twins - it is too obvious a "difference" and one that people will dwell on until the years of education are over. I think instead I'd do what I could to provide additional assistance to the twin who is less advanced even if that means when they hit "leveled" classes they will be on different tracks.

Jen said...

Your perspective as an adult multiple is interesting. In fact, it caused me to send detailed questions to four friends (two sets of adult identical twin boys, as that's what I have.) All four of them chose to go to college w/ their twin and strongly recommend twins being kept in the same classroom as children. However, they all four agreed that dressing twins alike is only cute for the first year. :) That's why I'm all for the Mass. legislation. Twins (and higher order multiples) are people and people are different. So it might be disastrous for my identical boys (sidenote: they shared a placenta and look exactly alike, didn't have them tested) to be in separate classrooms (emotionally, socially, academically etc.) while it might be fine for your b/g twins... there just shouldn't be a blanket rule deciding for the parents what is best for their multiples. I don't live in Mass. tho, and I have no idea what my state and school district do w/ twins. Will look into it...

H said...

Kids very rarely stay back these days, it's not in vogue, although some of them should be, and I am one of the friends who stayed back (and it was definitely the best decision that was ever made for me. In fact, when I hear in the building that there is discussion of retaining a child, I always say I can come down for "the hard sell")

Mommy and I have already discussed this legislation at length, and I think it is pretty ridiculous. Especially since the way it is written, it will still be up to the discretion of the school in the end anyway.

I have had several sets of boy girl twins, together and not together. Same sex twins are never together. (They are together in Kindergarten, but not after.) Twins 100% need their own identity, their own space, their own friends.

Of the boy girl twins, 99% of the ones that I've had together, the girl twin always "babies" or "mothers" the boy twin. I've also known that many of these mothers wanted them together for the ease of their home life in terms of homework. Our middle school policy for any kind of twins, is to let them be on the same team, so then they have the same teachers and same homework, but not directly in the same class.

Sorry MOTs, I know this won't be popular- but children are resilient, much more so than adults, and it seems much more to be a parent need to have them together, than the kids really needs.:)

T. said...

This is a bit off-topic, and I really don't know from whence I speak (since I am not a mother), but is it the feeling of mothers (and teachers) out there that we "baby" our children these days? Coddle them, make everyone a winner, afraid of giving a bad grade because it might destroy their confidence, etc? I feel like things were different "back in our day," and I think part of the reason that all of us are so driven, goal-oriented, and "hard core" is at least partly due to that. Just some food for thought. I am still learning what my opinions are on all of this stuff.

BTW, I am extremely bored at work, in case you were wondering about my excessive commentary these last few days. :-)

Anonymous said...

Mommy Esq.- thanks for the clarification. Wasn't sure if that was really what you meant or not.

I definitely think kids are overcoddled today. Have you heard of "helicopter parents"? (Constantly hovering over their kids...) I think it is ridiculous that every kid has to get a trophy every time they play a sport, win or lose. I think it is ridiculous that parents interfere when their precious little child gets a B instead of an A (which I have seen happen). I think it is ridiculous that parents make excuses for their lazy/forgetful/irresponsible/poorly behaved children instead of giving them the discipline they will need to succeed on their own.

But I disagree with holding a child back in school under most circumstances. First, because I think there should be some sort of intervention sooner in the schoolyear, *before* it gets to the point that the child is so far behind that he/she needs to repeat the grade. And second because there is some education research that shows a strong correlation between being held back in school and eventually dropping out of school without getting a diploma. It is rather soul-crushing to a child to be held back- especially because all his/her peers know about it.

SMNYC said...

I'm not disagreeing for the sake of it but 2 small points of clarification.

Crapshack is assuming that intervention is all that is required to "correct" a situation. Sometimes, kids just aren't ready despite your best efforts.

Secondly, there's a big difference between correlation and causality. If the research somehow proved holding children back caused them to drop out, that would be interesting. But a correlation that...less...uh...developed kids are more likely to drop out is hardly shocking and to me is not a reflection on them being held back.

I think there are definitely cases where kids needs to be held back. I don't remember the cycles, but there's a certain few weeks of the when kids are born that its borderline whether they start school then, or wait a year. Some parents push for starting them sooner, and sometimes its just too early. They're behind all of their peers developmentally because they're the youngest in the class, and they're also inferior physically due to their age.

And if its a boy, he's likely going to be really short compared to the girls and wont be able to get a date for the dance. Do you want to be responsible for that?

And Mommy, Esq - I really want to strangle this word verification thing sometimes. qdgxryyqppqqpqpdbdppq is just a bit much.

Anonymous said...

I am a kindergarten teacher and I have had over 10 sets of twins and triplets go through my doors in the past 14 years. I have not had ONE positive experience with keeping them together. They depend on one another too much, quibble like the siblings they are and often dominate the classroom dynamic. Keep them separate. Without a doubt children are coddled way too much these days (negotiation, suggestions rather than direction, overuse of Purell) and it's going to backfire in a big way when these kids get older.

Anonymous said...

I think the fact that you and your sisters still talk about the twins who roomed together in college says more about you than about them. And not in a nice way if you know what I mean. I have no problem with people like yourself who like to reflect on what has worked or not worked for you in your life. I do however take issue when someone like you then tends to think that your experience in having a life makes you an expert on what is best for everyone else. Current research indicates that the best placement for twins is an individual decision. Some twins should always be apart, while some should always be together and some may benefit from having both experiences. Too often school districts have done what is easiest for the teacher or the children's peers.I am grateful that this bill will allow twins to be treated as individuals and not subject to a district's one size-fits-all policy. I am also glad that parents will be given a voice at the table to help make decisions that they believe will be the best for their children and family. I hope you will realize that there are many paths to success and happiness--And just because someone did not choose your path doesn't make theirs wrong.