In 2005, Minnesota became the first state to legislate a choice for parents of multiples: would their children be in the same classroom, or separated? Since then, several other states have followed suit, challenging both the traditional power of school districts to make that policy, and the conventional wisdom in educational circles that separation is always best.
So, now that we have the choice, should we Minnesota parents of multiples put our kids together in school?
Unfortunately, what little research exists on the topic has been inconclusive.
There is some evidence that keeping kids together, especially in the earliest grades, may have some benefit. Young multiples are often each others' best friends, and having a best friend in the classroom boosts kids' confidence. The bonus for parents can't be ignored, either: it's a lot simpler to keep track of homework, activities, and classroom volunteering when only one teacher is involved.
If you do choose to request that your kids be kept together, you might need to prepare for some resistance: many teachers still prefer for multiples to be separated. They may have good reason for it, too. In many twin relationships, for example, one twin tends to dominate the other, which doesn't help either's educational prospects. As children get older, they'll often naturally gravitate to their own interests and learning styles. Being in separate classrooms might give them more space to pursue those passions.
Bottom line: what should you do?
1) Arm yourself with knowledge. There are some really excellent articles out there with additional information. I especially liked this one from the New York Times, and this one from About.com. And here, if you're interested, is an interesting history of the Minnesota law.
2) Prepare to re-evaluate your decision every year. Every classroom is different, and your kids' preferences and needs will change as they grow.
3) Leave a comment. My own twins are 3 -- we haven't made up our minds about this yet. What factors helped you make your choice, if your multiples are already in school? Were you happy with your decision?