The number of twins and triplets worldwide has increased due to advancements in fertility treatments and to women having children at an older age. With the increase, school placement for these children – either in separate classes or together – has been a topic of much discussion.
According to National Health Service (NHS) about 80% of U.K. families with twins or multiples have a choice in whether their children should be separated in school. However, in the U.S., the situation is much more varied. Whilst a few states have laws allowing choice, and many are thinking about it, the majority have mandatory separation.
At ASL, there is no formal policy for whether twins should be separated in class. Patrick Lee, Lower School Assistant Principal said, “In our school we try to meet the needs of the individual family and of those children.”
In the Middle School, Principal Lutkoski explained, “our default starting plan when we have twins is to enroll them into different classes, but we have flexibility to do what is best in each circumstance.”
Finally, in the High School, Assistant Principal Karen Bonthrone looks, “first at getting students in their first choice of classes,” making that a priority.
Mike and Noah Konzal (’19) were separated in their U.S. school until Grade 5, when they asked to be placed together. Their parents wanted them to be separated at first so they could “make new friends and stuff; so we wouldn’t be attached to each other,” Noah said. Years later, after becoming much more independent, the brothers asked to be placed together, which they preferred.
Taegan Kopfler (’17) and her twin sister, Haley (’17), were also in separate classes during elementary school in the U.S.. “I think it was a good thing because we grew as individuals,” Taegan said.
Ryan and Jared Lazar (’19), however, had a different experience. They were in the same class up until eighth grade because they went to a very small school; there was only one class, so they had to be together. While they both thought this arrangement was “fine,” they also thought it was a bit limiting socially because they had the same friends.
Now in high school, all of the twins mentioned have had at least some classes with their sibling. They get to see a familiar face every day and get the same workloads as each other. “It’s definitely helpful academically,” Haley said. “Sometimes we study for tests together, which is great because sometimes she’ll have points that I missed.”
Ryan agreed, adding, “It’s pretty easy because [Jared] has the same assignments most of the time, and if [I’m] having trouble on a question, [I] can go to [him] first before having to ask a teacher.”
Competition and comparison seem to be the biggest challenges when twins are in the same class. For the Lazars, the competition for grades can be fierce, but they have an advantage at this age in that most of their sports and outside activities are not co-ed, so they don’t compete directly against one another as often.
Noah said that he and his brother are always trying to beat each other, whether with a grade in school or in sports. “What annoys us most is that our parents always compare us,” Noah said. “If [Michael] gets a good grade, and I get a bad grade, then I get all the hate, and vice versa.”
Haley and Taegan also said that, in nearly everything they do, the compete. They believe this can become stressful, particularly with grades. And while their parents are constantly reminding the sisters not to compare themselves to each other, Haley said that it’s hard not to, especially when her twin “is doing nearly everything that I do.”
Being in separate classes then, can seem appealing. In theory, the twins won’t get compared as much. In reality, that isn’t always the case. It can be hard for parents, teachers and even the twins not to make comparisons. This can be frustrating, especially when the experiences can vary depending the teacher and the class.
Despite these challenges, Jared prefers being in a separate class to his sister. “It was fine, but I like being separate because we can do our own thing and work together when we need to,” he said.
He believes that this separation helps socially as well. “Sometimes it can be kind of hard being in the same grade because sometimes you don’t want your friends to be [the] same as their friends, just because you kind of want your own social life,” he said, “But it works out well.”
Written by Online Editor Christina Leonard