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For a long time, the question of ‘should twins be in the same class at school or should they be split?’ has never worried me. I always thought my twins should be in separate classes, in order to allow them to develop their own individuality, personality and friendships. However, now my twins are due to start school in September, I am suddenly (very unexpectedly) feeling very unsure and worried.
On Monday, I had a to go to a meeting at school for all the new September starters. Whilst walking there, everything suddenly felt very real and I started questioning myself, ‘is it actually best to split twins up?’. I had never questioned it before, so it came as quite a shock.
The school has no preference either way, so I guess it’s down to me to decide. I came back from school feeling very confused. I asked twitter and got a mixed response, though interestingly, several people with twins said ‘don’t split them’. I then read TAMBAs guide to twins at school. I found this very interesting and was surprised by how much I then felt in favour of twins remaining together at school.
When I read this:
“Recent research conducted by Kings College London (a national study of 2,232 twin children) found that twins separated at the start of primary school at age 5 had more emotional problems on average (symptoms of shyness, withdrawal, depression and anxiety) than non-separated twins.” (TAMBA)
I was really shocked. It had never occurred to me that it could cause real damage to split them up! I am now starting to think we should keep them together.
However, I am struggling with the thought of keeping them together as I have always brought them up to be two individuals, they very rarely dress the same and I try to encourage them to be independent. Therefore, to put them in the same class together, to me would not be encouraging individuality so much. On the other hand, I do want them to settle in well at school quickly and I don’t want them to be traumatised by being separated.
It is such a difficult decision. I think there is no set rule for twins, it is very individual depending on each twins personality etc. There are so many pros and cons on either side. At the moment I feel I am not going to get it right whichever way I go. I know that’s silly, I’m sure they will be fine either together or split, but as a parent, being responsible for my children’s best welfare, I am desperate to make the right decision.
I would love to know your opinion and experiences, please leave me a comment.
I love to create activities for my children and join in with their games and crafts. However, every parent still has chores to do, houses to clean, laundry to get done and gardens to keep. It can be tough trying to manage little children, at the same time as keeping up with the housework (no matter how much or little of it you do).
My tip for managing this, is to let the children help. If you are cleaning, give them a duster or baby wipe to clean with you. If you are vacuuming, give them a brush to help sweep with you. I know they won’t actually be any real help, but it keeps them busy. Put on some music and dance around whilst cleaning. The children will love it and it won’t seem like such a chore.
There was one very memorable time I gave all 3 of my children a baby wipe and they cleaned down all my kitchen cupboards! It was great, they actually did quite a good job and they loved it so much, I had to persuade them to stop in the end.
Last weekend was another great example of this. We needed to get out in the garden to cut back some bushes and generally tidy up a bit for the autumn/winter, especially as we have been having a bit of a garden makeover this year. It is not completely finished yet, but we are getting there. So I needed to figure out how the children could help whilst we did this.
Firstly, I gave them each a pair of their child scissors. They helped me cut back, the very over grown lavender bush. Now, I can’t tell you, just how much my children enjoyed this activity. It was so much fun. They carefully cut off lots of lavender, into their tubs that I gave them, so we could keep it to do some crafts with. However, when my back was turned, they all put their lavender in the recycling bin!! This means unfortunately, we can’t follow-up with any lavender crafts now, but never mind, they had enough fun just cutting it.
My little ones love using scissors and this activity brought a whole new dimension to the use of scissors and was a great way to practice scissor skills.
Secondly, they helped me gather up all the mess and leaves from the floor to put in the recycling bin, before helping me sweep up.
There can be lots of fun for little ones, just helping mummy and daddy. They love to copy what we do and ‘help’. We had a great afternoon in the garden, getting it sorted at the same time as having fun and working together as a family.
When my son started school last year, he settled in very quickly without any problems. Myself on the other hand however, it was a different story. I found the school run very difficult with two toddlers in tow. I found it incredibly difficult to keep up with all the letters and information sent home and I found it hard to keep up with all the reading and homework he had to do.
Over the last year I have been learning how best to manage this new situation, that is going to be my life for the next thirteen years at least. I thought I would share with you what I have learnt, which has helped me.
Here are my top tips for coping with school as a parent….
- Get up and ready before the children – I find if I get up an hour before the children (at 6am), I can have a shower, wake up slowly and get dressed at my own leisurely pace, without having to worry about what the children are up to and then I am totally prepared to help get them ready at 7am and to cope with all they throw at me. This works brilliantly for me, though I know some people may struggle with this if their children are very early risers.
- Be prepared – Try, if you can, to prepare packed lunches the night before, I know its hard (and I do frequently fail with this one, but when I do manage it, life in the morning is so much easier). Lay clothes out the night before, the worst thing is when you realise in the morning there are no clean shirts! If you lay it out the night before, the morning panic is reduced. It is also a good idea that the school bag is packed the night before, again saving panic in the morning.
- Keep on top of homework/reading - I found all the reading and homework quite difficult to keep on top of at first, I would advise, to find a routine that works for you and stick to it. For us, we now read the book at bedtime, he reads us a story, then we read him a story.
- Respond to letters straight away - It felt like we were bombarded with letters home, information about this and information about that at first. I felt like I didn’t know if I was coming or going. The best thing to do, is to reply to any letters home straight away other wise it will get forgotten or lost, and then believe me, you get confused!
- Create a filing system for school things - You need a good diary or calendar where you can keep track of all the new events for each child (especially with the lead up to christmas, there will be events til they are coming out of your ears!). File letters etc in an organised way.
- Talk to other parents – There are times when you may not be sure whats happening (especially if you have a son like mine, who doesn’t tell you anything), it is good to speak to other parents, this can be a great source of information. My son’s school actually have a Facebook page where parents can ask questions, discuss things etc, its great.
- Routine - Try to develop a good routine and stick to it. I love routine, it works really well for us, as I find the children all know what is expected of them. I also give them a bit of a reward if they are all ready in time, they get to watch peppa pig on milkshake. I can time everything to that, then they put coats and shoes on whilst watching it and as soon as it finishes, it’s time to walk out the door.
These are my personal top tips for surviving the school years, though I know they won’t be watching peppa pig for much longer. Not everyone will like all of them, we all work differently, but if you are struggling like I was at first, maybe give some of them a try, you never know, it may transform things for you?
One thing I will say though is, it does get easier.
Do you have any other tips to help new school parents cope? It would be great to share some other tips.
Childhood is precious. It is over in a flash. It should be a time for running around, friendships, making a mess (though, that one goes against the grain a bit), dressing up, pretending, laughter, giggles, learning, exploring, being creative and above all having fun.
It is vital we cherish this time as parents and allow our children to experience these things. There is plenty of time for them to grow up and learn about the real world, with all its stresses, technology and pressure.
We live in such a fast paced society with new technology round every corner and pressure to keep up with all the latest trends. Whatever happened to ‘just living life’ and enjoying it?
This is especially true for children. Children do most of their learning through play and exploring things for themselves. If we remove most of this independent play time, by filling their lives with tv, computer games and other technology, how will they learn?
Additionally, when they have grown up, will they look back at their childhood with fond memories and think, oh yes, I had a wonderful time playing that computer game or watching that tv programme. Personally, I don’t believe technology produces great childhood memories. When I think back to my childhood, I remember playing outside with friends, making mud pies, climbing, making dens, exploring, doing crafts and just having basic fun. This is how I want my children to remember their childhood.
Don’t get me wrong, tv and computers have their place and can be a great learning tool too. But I do believe, everything in moderation and sometimes we need reminding about the basics.
This is the reason I set up my linky, LetKidsBeKids. I believe so strongly, we need to remember to get back to basics with our children, let them get muddy, jump in puddles, make dens, climb trees and explore. This is great fun, children learn a lot and if we as parents join in too, it can be such fantastic family time and produce some great memories.
Childhood doesn’t last long, lets let our children enjoy it while they can.
As a family we love getting out and about, walking, getting fresh air, experiencing what nature has to offer. Last week on holiday was no different. We absolutely love walking along the cliff tops looking at the sea, the boats, the birds whilst overlooking the Isle Of Wight, and the Needles.
It always amazes me how far my children walk. They frequently walk miles without complaining. When I think about other children I see, so much older than my kids still being pushed around in a buggy, I am so happy that we have ditched our buggy.
Last week, we walked along the cliff tops into Milford On Sea, which is probably about 3 miles. We stopped there for an ice cream and a play in the playground, before embarking on our return walk. We decided to walk back through the woods for a change of scene. We had been a couple of times before with my parents, so thought it would be fine.
We walked by a stream with several bridges along the way, where the children kept looking for trolls. We even found a geocache (though it turned out to be just a bridge, so a bit disappointing). The children seemed to be enjoying themselves looking for different leaves, bugs, animals, and feathers were quite popular too. It was all going too well.
Then, the scenery appeared to be different from how we remembered it before. We kept walking and walking, before we came to the conclusion…….we were…. a bit………lost! Oh dear, lost in the woods! Funnily enough, sat nav doesn’t really work in the woods without roads?! We had to just keep walking, until we eventually came out onto a road, where we could then navigate back to the caravan site.
When we finally got to the caravan site, I must admit the children were definitely flagging, but I can’t blame them it was a long walk for little legs. The worst part was, even when we got onto the site, it is such an enormous caravan site we once again, had no idea where our caravan was! We had to walk all the way through to the other end before we could finally sit down and relax. We must have walked about 8 miles or more!
This may seem like a complete disaster of a day to some, but to us it was great family time, where we had to support each other to keep motivated as well as enjoying our surroundings. It really brought it home to me how fantastic my children are at walking and not complaining, but actually enjoying it.
It is so important for kids to be active, run around, climb, swing, scoot etc. It hopefully encourages them to continue living a healthy, active lifestyle in adulthood. It is also great fun and allows them to burn off lots of energy, at the same time as teaching them all their very important physical developmental skills.
I believe there are two very important physical skills children need to learn, one is swimming and the other is riding a bike. Swimming is an essential life skill, as it could save their life one day. BB is currently having swimming lessons and my other 2 will also have lessons at a later date.
Riding a bike, I feel is also a great skill to have. It teaches them about balance and coordination. From the age of 2, BB had a balance bike, which he got on with brilliantly. He could scoot along on it really fast, so I knew he had balancing skills. Recently, he got a pedal bike, as I felt it was time for him to start riding a bike properly.
Last week, he went out on it for the first time (no stabilizers). At first it was a little difficult, he kept riding into the wall. I ran along beside him holding on. It wasn’t long before I could start to let go and by the time we got to the park he was able to ride around the grass all by himself! He did fantastically well. We are not quite there yet though, as the starting off he still finds very difficult, but I think now it is just a matter of building up his confidence.
I am really happy he is riding a bike, it was lovely to see him laugh and smile, so pleased with himself, when he was riding on two wheels.
I don’t know whether he got on so well with riding his bike, because of previously having a balance bike or not, but I do think it must have helped. However, My girls are different. I have tried them with the balance bike, but they just don’t get on with it, they hate it. So I have had to resort to bikes with stabilizers for them. It will be interesting to see if they get on as well, when their stabilizers are removed (but that won’t be for a while yet).
These two skills BB is developing, is great. He is having fun, being active, burning off energy and learning all at the same time. It is definitely worth putting in the time and energy to help with these essential skills.
Simple fun maths games for early years
When trying to help little children learn to count and do simple maths, it is important to make it fun. Children learn best through play. Here are a few very easy but fun ways to get little children counting and adding/subtracting.
Egg box game
What you need:
- 1 egg box (6 or 12, depending on how difficult you want to make it)
- 1 pen
- 20 coins or beans
- 2 players
Before you start playing, you need to write a number in every hole of the egg box.
How to play:
- Divide the coins/beans between the two players
- Place the egg box a distance away from both players
- Take it in turns to throw 2 coins/beans into the egg box, youngest player first
- See what numbers the coins/beans land on, then the player who threw them has to add the two numbers together. If they get it right, they keep the coins/beans, if they get it wrong, they are given to the other player.
- If a coin/bean misses the egg box, they are given to the other player
- The person with the most coins/beans at the end is the winner
You can increase the numbers in the egg box as the children get better.
You can also use the game to teach subtraction the same way. Just subtracting the two numbers instead of adding.
You could also decorate the box nicely to make it more appealing to little ones.
BB loved this game, we played several rounds of it.
What you need:
- 1 pen
- Colouring pencils/pens
- 1 or 2 dice
Before you play, you need to draw a simple picture in pen. I drew a large ice cream as that is very simple to draw, then divide the picture into 6 or 12 sections (depending on how many dice you are using). Number each section.
How to play
- Player 1 rolls the dice
- They then have to count the number on each dice and add the numbers together
- They then colour in the corresponding number on their picture
- Player 2 does the same
- Player 1 rolls the dice again and so on
- If they have already coloured in that corresponding number, play is passed to the next player
- The first player to colour in the whole picture wins
For younger players, you can use just one dice, and only 6 sections on the picture. This helps little ones with counting the dots on the dice and recognising their numbers, before learning to add.
All three of my children enjoyed playing these games and we will be playing again.
Last week, BB lost his first two teeth. He is now growing his adult teeth. This really made me think, how quickly the children are growing up. It feels like if I blink I will miss their childhood. It is all happening too fast.
That inspired me to write this poem, I hope you like it….
Slow down babies
Slow down babies, I am not ready to let you grow,
Your hands are still tiny, your feet are still small,
I love to watch you sleeping, so beautiful and small,
I listen to your giggles, your laughter, your singing,
I want to listen forever, some never-ending singing,
Your smiles are so cute, your eyes are so bright,
How my heart aches, to stop you gaining height,
I want to freeze time, and keep you by my side,
Never let you go, forever in my arms,
But alas I know I must, let you go, discover the world,
The world is your oyster, I have shown you the way,
All I want, is your happiness and freedom,
I will always remember,
My beautiful babies,
Forever in my memories,
Forever in my heart.
One of the most important things I believe I can do as a parent for my children, is to be an inspiration, a good role model. Children often replicate what they see, so, if I try to be the best person I can, I am hoping my children will do the same.
Last weekend was a great example of this. I play the tenor horn in Cold Ash Brass. On Sunday (yes, one of the hottest days of the year so far!), I played a concert in our local park, on the bandstand.
It was a great afternoon, despite being incredibly hot, dressed all in black, trousers and long-sleeved shirt and despite missing the legendary Wimbledon tennis. The children came to watch and listen to me play, whilst they scooted around on their scooters and kicked a ball about. They had loads of fun playing and watching. They even got to have an ice cream in the interval to cool down too.
To my amazement, this appears to have really inspired my children. As soon as they got home from the concert, they went straight to their musical drawer and pulled out every instrument going. The piano, recorders, percussion etc, everything! They also got the written music out and tried to read it. Then said to me “where are the words?”. I had never thought of that before…. no words, just dots on a page. I tried to explain a little to them.
They then proceeded to give us a concert, which was great to see, but as you can imagine, not great on the ears! BB now says he wants to learn music. I have said I will teach him the recorder if that is what he wants to do. I think he is still a little too young to learn a proper instrument yet, but I have promised him, if he still wants to when he is a bit older, he can. But for now I am more than happy to teach recorder to start him off, though my ears may not be thinking that after a while! (What have I let myself in for?)
I want to inspire my children to try new things and encourage them to pursue their interests. If that interest is music, that’s great, if they choose something else, that’s great too.
From the moment twins are born, twins are often clumped together and spoken about as one person. They are compared to each other with terms like ”this one” and “that one” being used. This, I have discovered from personal experience, so I wanted to write this post to promote awareness of the individuality of twins.
There is no getting around the fact, that twins are amazing. It is so wonderful to be able to watch two of your children grow, develop and reach milestones together, side by side. Watching twins interact, play and learn shoulder to shoulder is absolutely magical!
However, I believe it is important to remember, twins are individuals too. Twins start life together, some from the same egg, some from two completely separate eggs, they grow side by side in the womb. They share a birthday (although, my twins don’t even share their birthday).
Identical twins may have very similar looks eg, same sex, same eye and hair colour, etc, but they also have many differing features. My twins have different face shapes, different birth marks, different moles, as well as different medical conditions (which I find amazing). Whether they are identical or not, the same sex or not, they were born together, but need to live individually.
All children need to be given the chance to develop their own personalities, likes, dislikes and interests. Twins are no different. They are not a duplicate copy of each other, they have completely different personalities.
I believe it is essential that we assist twins in exploring their individuality and allow them to discover their own personality, beliefs and identity. Here is a list of ways to help twins become individuals:
Suggestions for ways to promote individuality in twins
- Try not to use phrases like “this one” and “that one”
- Refer to each child by name
- Try not to call them ‘the twins’
- Talk to each child separately
- Try to give individual attention whenever possible
- Read to each child separately
- Try to allow each child to have their own clothes
- Each child should have some of their own toys
- Take photos of each child individually too
- Try to take each child out individually if possible (if only to the shop?)
That was a list of ways to help promote individuality in twins. However, I am very aware of how difficult it can be sometimes to follow all 10 points. Personally, I need to improve and work on some of these. It is extremely rare that my children, especially ‘the twins’, get taken out individually. I wish I could do it more, but it is very difficult when you have 3 or more children and only two parents. I also must confess, I read to them together, rather than separately. None of us are perfect, but I try at least to think of them as two individual children with different personalities and needs.
Twins are 2 separate children, with 2 different personalities that should not be compared to each other. Twins are not a freak show (even when having a double tantrum in the supermarket, at double the volume)! They are 2 ordinary children living their lives, developing and learning about themselves and their world.