Transition and multiple siblings
Starting school is a huge milestone, an exciting new adventure and comes with plenty of decision making for us all. For parents of twins, triplets, quads (for the purpose of this article ‘multiple siblings’) there are extra implications to consider. My own experience of having taught multiple siblings, reading up on the subject and actually speaking to parents who have gone through the process is that there is no absolute rule about the best way to educate. There is however a shared goal – to allow for the unique blossoming of each individual whilst respecting their special bond.
If your chosen school has parallel classes and the option is offered first comes that difficult decision whether parents choose to put siblings together in the same class or separate them. There is no clear-cut answer, as every set of multiple siblings are different and the ‘right’ choice may differ each school year but consider the following points
· Does your preferred school have only one form entry or parallel classes?
· If there is a two form entry option that you decide to take advantage of would siblings still see each other at lunchtime, in the playground and on special activities?
· Does one sibling need the other? Relationships are invariably complicated sometimes one sibling is stronger and the other weaker and they alternately rely on and resist each other. Could separation prove detrimental to the needier sibling?
· What are the family logistics? Parental convenience is simply real life and needs factoring into the equation.
· Do the siblings happily work independently or do they distract each other?
· Are the siblings highly competitive and can this result in them trying to outperform each other academically, socially and in terms of needing attention? Or do they simply rub along happily and get comfort from being in each other’s presence?
· Finally consider the big picture – are there any external factors that need to be taken into account? A house move, family divorce, the birth of a younger sibling, the loss of a loved one all present challenges and it may well not be the time to add extra stress by splitting up siblings who may need each other for stability and support.
Whichever route you decide trust your instincts and run with them. Circumstances constantly change and the dynamics will change and evolve as siblings develop and mature as individuals and whatever decision you make here may need to be reviewed and that is perfectly acceptable.
Parents of multiple siblings will already know the importance of making individual time for each child and this applied to time after school too. This is easier to do with support of extended family around but may be as simple as each having a turn to share a school reading book with you whilst the other plays. Encourage siblings to each invite a different child to play after school to extend their friendship circles. Look at the range of after school activities and clubs on offer and try and match them to individual interests.
For parents with identical siblings it is worth thinking about how you make it possible for their peer group and staff to easily identify one from the other. They need to be called by their name and not referred to as ‘the twins’ so they see themselves valued as individuals. No child wants to stand out as different so consider discreet ways of making a difference, be consistent and share it with all those they come into contact with. You could perhaps have them in different coloured sweatshirts, buy different PE bags, different lunch boxes, different hair styles, coloured hair ribbons.