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Twins with different academic abilities

(22 Posts)
spokette Tue 18-Nov-08 14:56:13

DTS are 4yo 9m and started school in September. At the parent's evening, the teacher told us that DT2 is struggling and is really behind the rest of the class. Consequently, he is being assigned to a learning support assistant and will get one to one help.

We are obviously grateful that this has been picked up by the school and it confirmed our suspicions that developmentally, DT1 was ahead of DT2. DT2 was much smaller at birth (3lb compared to DT2 who was 4lb 10oz) and his development has been behind DT1 (e.g. smiled at 20 weeks, sat at 12 months, crawled at 14 months, walked at 18 months etc).

Last night whilst practising the words that they have been given to learn, DT1 started sniggering at DT2 and saying that he was better than himsad.

We told him that they were both very good and that DT2 was working to the best of his ability. We realise that this is something we are going to have to manage and am looking for advice from those who have experience of this. We are worried that once DT2 is fully cognizant of his delayed development compared to his DB, it will affect his confidence. Also, how can we help DT1 to realise that he must not tease his brother in this way?


sandyballs Tue 18-Nov-08 15:02:12

It is very difficult in my experience as twins are naturally very competitive. I have 7 year old twin girls and DT2 has always been far more academic than DT1. DT1 doesn't struggle as such but she is just not as interested in reading, writing, learning than her sister, who has a natural passion for it.

I think you may find the teasing gets better as they get a bit older, and I am sure with time that you will find your DT1 outshines DT2 in other areas - music or sport for example.

It's very hard, as I found myself playing down DT2s academic success, simply to avoid hurting/upsetting her sister, but that's not right either is it.

sandyballs Tue 18-Nov-08 15:04:05

Sorry, I meant with time DT2 may outshine DT1 in other areas!! Getting confused as its the other way round with mine (funnily enough she was the smallest at birth too).

spokette Tue 18-Nov-08 18:27:43

Thanks Sandyballs. We are aware that it is not fair on DT1 if we play down his abilities. We are focusing on what DT2 can do rather than what he cannot and and make a big fuss of him when he does well at something, just like we do with DT1.

Last week he received a certificate for trying hard at school which was wonderful and a relief because DT1 had received one after 4 weeks at school for the good work he was doing.

coochybottom Tue 18-Nov-08 19:56:23

I have found that my DT2 who was also smaller at birth is also slightly "behind" DT1. There is not really much between them though and I think DT2 sometimes feels intimidated by DT1 and gives up. DT1 is extremely competitive and I think DT2 sometimes holds back out of some kind of twin loyalty. They are id boys just turned 6.

dramaqueen Tue 18-Nov-08 20:17:00

I'm not sure this helps but I am a twin and my sister & I have/had different academic abilities. That's why your thread title caught my eye.

I was the one who found school and learning easier, while my twin was not at all academic. However growing up I was the one who had the lack of confidence and looking back it was because I never thought I was any good at anything. Our parents played down any school acheivement I had to such an extent that I thought I was fairly hopeless. It wasn't until I was doing my A levels and she had left school that I realised that I wasn't that bad!

Sorry, it probably isn't that relevant, but please don't play down the more academic twin's acheivements.

ScummyMummy Tue 18-Nov-08 20:48:09

I think this is one of the hardest things as a parent of twins. You want them both to get equal attention and admiration because YOU know they are equally fab and it is really hard when the world doesn't recognise that and when life isn't fair.

One thing to be aware of is that they are v little still to make a definitive judgement on their academic abilities! My twins were developmentally quite different at 4 in terms of reading etc. Today they are both doing pretty similarly academically, though they have their own strengths.

I believe the key to children progressing well at the pace they can manage developmentally is that they don't lose confidence and for that reason, as well as DT1's moral and kindness development, I would ALWAYS pull him up on belittling or teasing his twin on doing less well. I would go for a serious talk approach on that one. Ask him how he thinks dt2 is feeling. If he doesn't get the serious talk stuff I would treat it as straightforward bad behaviour and do what ever you do when you're cross- how very dare you him or shout or bring bedtime forward or impose a timeout or send him out the room or whatever you do to underline not on behaviour.

Can you do their practice separately so they both get the individual attention and don't compare so much?

Also, in this situation I would think very seriously about putting them in separate classes, if there is any chance of that. I am SO glad my boys were in different classes in Y1 at the height of their polarisation when one was reading massively fluently and the other was utterly baffled by phonics.

I also agree with not attempting to play down achievements of DT1. It's great he's doing well.

sandyballs Tue 18-Nov-08 21:25:54

Definitely separate classes if it is possible. That has helped my two enormously.

kathryn2804 Tue 18-Nov-08 23:16:41

Can you try to do reading etc separately. The other could watch tv in another room or something. I've got all this to come as mine start school next year!!

DoNotAsfinishedXmasshopping Tue 18-Nov-08 23:26:16

I have twins who are not necessarily split in ability - but one is slightly stronger than the other....and although it is slight they have still picked up on it and taunt each other.

There are a number o ways to deal with this - obviously say that it is important that they both try there best - as you have done. Don't make a huuge fuss over DTD1's abilities but I personally think it is unfair to play this down totally.

The best thing we have found is highlighting each of their strengths. "everyone has to try had and whilst you find it easier to read DTD2 needs a bit more help. DTD2 finds it easier to do XXXX though" kind of argument.

For DTD1 this may be academic. For DTD2 you may have to be creative - but do try to find something he is stronger he better at running? drawing? building lego? jumping?

MarsLady Tue 18-Nov-08 23:31:02

Hey Spokette... the joys of Reception eh?

DT1 goes to school for the social whirl (though she's actually doing very well. More articulate than DT2 and rushing ahead in different areas).

DT2 goes to school to continue his obsession with numbers and letters. He's so obsessed by the letters that he doesn't see the words iyswim. He is adored by the staff (in a way that she isn't!).

I suppose what I'm trying to say is; continue to praise their strengths and recognise that they are separate beings. Just because this is how they've started out doesn't mean that this is the way that they will end. You watch... we'll both shed a tear at the end of Year 6 grin

ScummyMummy Tue 18-Nov-08 23:36:17

Wow, Mars. I can't believe your babies are at school now!

MarsLady Tue 18-Nov-08 23:41:23

Me either! But I danced the dance of joy they day they went in grin

ScummyMummy Tue 18-Nov-08 23:48:01

Not even a tiny bit of you thinking "Aww my baby twins, all grown up! Waaaah!"?

MarsLady Tue 18-Nov-08 23:50:11

Nope! I think that that will come in Y6 when they are the last of my children to leave Primary school in which case I'll either be a basket case or finally thankful when they've graduated university! grin

ScummyMummy Tue 18-Nov-08 23:52:28


MadamDeathstare Wed 19-Nov-08 00:22:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spokette Thu 20-Nov-08 12:42:34

Yesterday I was reading with DT2 and even though DT1 had been asked to do something else, he kept coming around and reading DT1's words for himhmm.

Eventually I had to raise my voice to him and he started crying saying that he only wanted to helpsad.

Unless I lock DT1 in a separate room, I can't see how I am going to keep him away whilst I practise with DT2. DH was working late so he was not around to occupy DT1 and this is the problem I have.

Oh joy!

Thanks for all the advice. DT1 was receiving lots of praise yesterday because he read all his words in his books and recognised all his words from his word envelope. DT2 received lots of praise for recognising a couple more words than last time so he is progressing and that is what we are focusing

spokette Thu 20-Nov-08 12:46:29

Also, we are thinking about separating them when they go into Year 1.

ScummyMummy Fri 21-Nov-08 06:42:05

Can you do a short term reward chart with them both? Each gets a sticker for leaving you and the other twin to it for the duration of the homework/practice session? 10 stickers = small reward?

BabyTalk13 Sun 04-Jan-09 00:05:19

Hi I dont have twins (although I want them!!!) but I am 1 myself.
Me and my brother had a special twin language when toddlers and had to see speech therapists as no one could understand us, after this I started doing really well whereas my brother wasnt!
At school I remember him asking me everything in class and I think I ended up doing most of his work aswell as mine. I could see he was getting upset and didnt want the other children to notice him getting behind so dint mind helping.
At parents evenings the teachers would tell my mum what I was doing and suggested splitting us the following year which they all agreed on. I think this was the best thing to do as my brother realised he had to try for himself and seemed alot happier to. We later found out he was dyslexic and mum used to give him all the attention at homework or reading times!!!
...but I also remember him being able to ride his bike way before me, being better at swimming than me and many other things sad as hed put his mind to these more and achieved them quicker.
Sorry ive jus babbled on loads but just wanted to note that theyl soon find there different strengths in different things smile

naomi83 Mon 05-Jan-09 17:24:01

I'm a twin myself, and it took till I was 7 until the teachers realised I couldn't read, as until that point I'd let my twin do the work for me. My parents put us in seperate classes, gave us seperate time (ie-me at the football with dad, her cooking with me, me shopping with mum, her swimming with dad etc), and within a few months I'd caught up (I'm now an English teacher!) The whole way through high school I thought she was "the clever twin" and I was the more social twin, until we got identical A level results (although her's all sciences, mine all arts.) My advice is, boost both twins' confidence, find what each excells at and nurture it, and put them in separate classes so they have seperate friends. Take individual time to do homework, distracing the other so they don't interfere (play dates, dad time, etc.) Good luck!

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