We live in New Jersey (which REALLY is NOT like you see on “reality” shows – honest!), and what most people don’t know is that when it comes to public school, NJ has parental choice on whether or not to keep multiples in the same class or to separate them into different classes.
If I hadn’t done my research, I wouldn’t have known this, as the schools don’t advertise about this point. The policy in my twins’ school is to automatically separate the multiples, unless requested by the parents to keep them together. (hard to request when you don’t know you can…anyhoo…)
When we moved here from Florida, parents of multiples had finally emerged victorious in their hard-fought battle to gain parental choice, and the law was finally signed just before we hopped on a plane northwards.
But I digress…
After keeping Halle & Zanna together in nursery school for a year, I evaluated the results: Halle would do most of the speaking for Zanna, Zanna was painfully shy, and the both of them would actively shoo away other kids who wanted to play with them.
So, at the start of Pre-K this year, I exercised my parental rights – and chose to have the girls in separate classes.
For the most part, the girls have adjusted just fine to not having their sister around 24/7.
Halle is learning how to get along with other children and making new friends and learning how to share the spotlight.
Zanna is not so shy, has made a few friends, and is speaking for herself now.
But there have been a few drawbacks that we’ve had to deal with:
From time to time, one of the girls’ classmates passes out an invitation to a birthday party – but only one of the girls is invited. That means that I have to call the birthday parent up and inveigle an invite for the other girl. This is embarrassing for both of us – me, because it feels like I’m imposing, and begging, and for the other parent, because they did not realize my children came in a 2-pack, and sometimes there isn’t enough space, or budget to allow for the extra sibling.
So I’ve had to sometimes decide that neither of the girls will go, or take one child to the party, and have my husband (if the party is on the weekend) take the other child to some other fun (but usually non-free) place, so they don’t feel they’re lacking in comparison to sister.
DIFFERENT STROKES…for different teachers
Also, my girls’ teachers – Mrs. K and Mrs. G – have different activities in their classes.
For awhile, Zanna stewed every Friday as Halle got to take a special toy to “Sharing Day” (show-n-tell), but Zanna couldn’t because Mrs. K didn’t do Sharing Day.
Mrs. K does “Star of the Week”, and when Zanna’s turn came, she was in hog-heaven as she got to fill out a special poster all about her, and gloried in the many perks of the position, such as being the line leader, and assisting the teacher in running the classroom routine.
Halle was not pleased, as SHE wanted to do all those splendiferous things as well. We tried to compensate by making her a “Star of the Week” poster of her own, but as we are not as accomplished in poster-making as Mrs. K is, Halle rejected our effort as paltry in comparison to Zanna’s poster and we were all treated to one heckuva tantrum.
Somehow, after that, Sharing Day has lost all its lustre and Halle has lost all interest in it. She wants to know why Mrs. G doesn’t have Star of the Week.
HERMIT CRABS FROM HELL
And of course, Zanna got to take home a hermit crab (I still have horrified flashbacks about that), but Halle’s class does not have a similar opportunity (Thank You, God!!!), and she is disappointed.
And while Halle’s classroom has 4 art stations – and Halle brings home quite a lot of her masterpieces, Zanna’s classroom only has 2 art stations – and many have been the complaints from Zanna regarding the lack of artistic opportunity.
I did offer Mrs. K, Zanna’s teacher, a two-sided standup easel which would bring the stations up to 4, but she explained that she just didn’t have the space in the classroom for it.
ARE YOU SURE THEY’RE TWINS?
Zanna is on the cheerful side usually, a bit docile, and is the apple of her teacher’s eye. At the last parent/teacher conference, Mrs. K gushed over how well she was doing, how well she got along with everyone, and how much everyone liked her.
Halle, is a bit complex. She’s feisty, VERY creative, and marches to the beat of her own drummer. When I arrive for pick-up time, and the kids are still out playing on the playground, I often see the teacher having to chase after Halle, repeatedly call to her, etc…
Mrs. G also likes Halle and her creativity, but wishes she would stay with the group a bit more. On two occasions (one that I personally witnessed, and the other that I got a call from the Principal about) Halle has slipped away from her group to do other things.
At pick-up time, while it’s nice to hear nice things about Zanna, I wasn’t hearing such nice things about Halle – she spit, she shoved, she blew raspberries at the other children or the teacher. It all boiled down to her resenting not being the center of attention (she is quite forceful about claiming that spot at home).
I also didn’t like the girls hearing one of them being praised and the other being spoken about in regards to behavioral issues.
I tried giving Halle extra attention, spent extra one-on-one time with her, tried to praise her good points, etc…but to no avail.
I even spoke to Mrs. G about the 1-2-3 Magic! method of discipline that we were doing at home, but nothing worked.
So I fell back on a tried-and-true method: bribery.
I told Halle that if she was sweet-as-pie to her teachers and classmates, and stayed with the group, that she would get a cookie after school. I also let her teacher know about this.
Mrs. G said that Halle was still acting up, but that she could see that Halle was really trying hard to be nicer. So I gave her a cookie for effort.
Halle was improving and her teacher was very happy!
Mrs. G said that Halle had done wonderfully – right up until the end when she sneaked away from the group. So I gave her a half-cookie.
Another good day for Halle – she gets a cookie.
Mrs. G said that she was so happy with Halle, that Halle had been “amazing” and congratulated Halle and said she certainly deserved her cookie!
So I think I’ll keep up the bribery a little longer, to make sure Halle is established in her new positive-reinforced behavior patterns.
Halle has also been doing less of the “Nobody likes me!” moaning that she had gotten into the habit of. Now that she’s trying to get along with others at school, it’s paying off with other children being more willing to play with her (I saw this myself – instead of only 1 other child playing with her, several were including her in their group.) and her teachers are able to interact with her in a more positive way.
Okay….that’s enough for now, my neck/arm and shoulder are still recovering but starting to hurt a bit. Still gotta go easy on them for awhile more 🙁