There have been many fascinating studies over the years into the subject of twins.
Anyone who’s had a personal connection with raising twins couldn’t help but notice their unique relationship, they way they sometimes appear to communicate and empathise with each other in an exclusive way. How they bounce ideas off each other. And gain confidence from that support which comes of being united in the same background at the same time, which other siblings of differing ages don’t have.
Perhaps the most noticeable time for this to have impact is when they go to nursery or school. Twins will be the only children who will begin this challenging stage of their life with someone who knows them by their side. And will be the only children to pass through the whole of their school and education at the same time in their life.
It’s obvious how valuable this could be in terms of comfort, reassurance and confidence with new situations. But there can also be disadvantages which may inhibit certain aspects of development like independence for example. Perhaps an unhealthy competition between the two, or one far exceeding the other in achievement which could create a sensitive situation.
And there is also the risk that those in charge of their education, whether in school or not, fail to regard them as individual characters with individual needs and adjust provision accordingly.
A recent study has looked at how twin relationships could impact on educational achievement and tries to answer the question of whether it would be best to separate twins a class situation.
There were no absolutely conclusive results to this study for either keeping twins together through their educational years, or apart. The author of the study felt that the point was not to make rigid rules either for or against, rather to look at each case individually, in consultation with parents, facilitators and the twins themselves at different stages of their life.
As with all children whatever age, whatever stage, and whatever their relationships, it is their needs as individual learners which is paramount, twins or not. Despite their similarities of background twins will be very different in nature, in their responses to learning and their developmental rate and it’s these individualities which need catering for during their learning life, instead of facilitators making assumptions about one twin based on the performance of the other, something which often happens when younger siblings follow older ones through school.
There is some further information and support for parents with twins on the Tamba (Twins and Multiple births Association) website.
And the NHS also offers this guidance for parents.
What we need to do overall, as parents and facilitators, is to remember the obvious – that all children will have different characteristics, responses, aptitudes, maturation rates and needs, whether twins or not. And to remain aware of the fact it is individuals we are educating, whatever their background.
If you’re a twin or have direct experience of twins in education it would be interesting to hear your views.