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Twins: Double the Fun, Twice the Education Needs

May 21, 2009 06:15 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
One Houston, Texas, school has a surprising number of twins—19 sets in all—that have left instructors wondering how to best help the kids thrive in the classroom.

Teachers Seeing Double

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Tinsley Elementary has a lot of twins. In fact, 38 of the 730 kids in the student body are twins. A couple sets of twins also have siblings who are twins. There’s even a set of triplets, the Houston Chronicle reported.

“Tinsley’s aggregation of twins arguably puts the school in contention for a Guinness World Records listing,” the paper wrote. But before the school looks at whether their twins have set a record, officials want to know more about how to best ensure the kids have a good school experience.

One of the earliest questions schools face is whether to leave twins in the same classroom when they start school or split them up. Some kids do better relying on each other for support in class, while others are ready to venture out on their own, Stephen Bennett, headmaster of The Grange School in the United Kingdom told The Telegraph.

In 2007, The Grange School had 20 sets of twins in classes. The school has taught so many twins that it specializes in their education. “The golden rule, of course, is to treat them as the individuals they are. Forget they are twins, even if they look alike,” headmaster Bennett stated.
 
Dr. Nancy Segal, a professor of developmental psychology, agrees that respecting a twin’s individual identity is important in school. Teachers need to learn how to tell twins apart, Fullerton told Junior Scholastic, and encourage other students to call twins by name, as well.

As for their part, parents can distinguish their kids by dressing identical twins differently and giving them different hairstyles. “Twins are individuals and regard themselves as such. They should not be treated as a unit,” Segal, who is a twin herself, stated.

Opinion: To separate or not?

The issue of separating twins in school can often be a contentious one for some parents. There are schools without a written policy on the subject, but some administrators generally agree that it’s better to separate twins so they have “an opportunity to develop individually, and not always be compared to one another,” Christine Harris, an associate superintendent for Illinois’ school District 47, said in a Northwest Herald article.

Some parents say their schools have insisted on splitting kids up. Others were surprised to learn that they could have requested to keep their youngsters together.

Dr. Segal said there are times when twins actually thrive better in the same class, but in states like Illinois, parents don’t have a legal right to request this for their kids. “I feel that it is the parent’s choice,” Heidi Ellis, the mother to twin girls, said. “I mean they’re the ones who know their child’s personality.”

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Related Topic: Fertility treatments contribute to increase in twins, triplets

In recent years, increasing numbers of parents are seeking fertility treatments for help getting pregnant, the Chicago Daily Herald explained in 2008. From 1980 to 2005, birth rates for twins increased 70 percent nationwide, and “skyrocketed more than 400 percent in the 1980s and ’90s” for triplets.

For some families, those rates are even more meaningful, as they find themselves among the ranks of those raising “multiple multiples”—more than one set of twins, or even twins and triplets.

Reference: Fertility issues

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