This week is Twins, Triplets and More week. To celebrate the UK's national charity for multiples, Tamba, has launched a new campaign. They want parents and families to be involved in the decision on whether to place their multiples in the same, or separate classrooms. It's a campaign that lies close to my heart, because I believe it has the potential to be one of the most important decisions a parent of multiples will ever have to make.
If you are a parent, then you will remember or be facing your child's first day at primary school. Even if you're not a parent, you may remember your own first day, perhaps with fondness, or perhaps it doesn't hold the most positive memories for you.
I'm a mum of twin boys Ollie and Caleb, and a younger daughter, Phoebe. With Phoebe, it's quite straight forward. We apply for a place, she is accepted and she gets placed into a class. Decision made and off she will go to nursery, or school, or social group.
Let me take you to my boys. The situation is instantly different. All of a sudden the questions start, and questions I didn't even think of myself. Do we keep them in the same class? A different class? Would it benefit the boys to separate them? What happens if we separate them and they hate it? What happens if we keep them together? Will they benefit, or will it cause problems?
And as much as other parents try to be supportive by trying to tell me it doesn't matter, I truly believe that this decision does matter. In fact, I believe it matters very much.
You see, as a university lecturer, I work at the other end of the educational journey. I see every day how early childhood experiences of education shape individuals. Both positive and negative experiences. These early days shape confidence, personality, learning styles, social skills, belief, and I could go on.
So for me, this decision was a big one. And for me, I wanted very much to be part of the decision and not just a voice on the side. I wanted to have a conversation with the people who knew them in the classroom environment, not just the head teacher. I wanted to speak to my boys and understand why they felt the way they did and to see how we could support them better.
I had my own ideas having read research, but I wanted to be led by what was best for my boys right now. We can change decisions in the future, but this initial decision is one which weighed heavily for months. The boys have been in the same class for two years. They have thrived. In fact they are excelling, both academically and socially. They are confident, independent, clever little individuals who love school and love learning.
Now you can see why Tamba's latest campaign is important to me. They are petitioning the government to introduce a piece of guidance, so all multiple birth families can have a say in which classroom their children are placed in.
We have been so fortunate with the boys' nursery and school. We know the teachers and the teachers know the boys and our family. In fact, during one conversation recently, one of their teachers said to me that after I had mentioned research to her, she had gone away to look at it as well. You see, they genuinely care, and I am so grateful for that. The boys are not just numbers on a school list, they are little individuals for whom the school are actively trying to make the right decisions.
At a time where a decision has the potential to impact on how a child views school, when it may have consequences for their relationship with their closest friend and sibling, and when it may ultimately shape their views of education and learning, I want to make sure I try to do the best for my children. And I, for one, am thankful that the teachers have the same goals.
And now? Well, we watch and wait and review again next year!
You can find out more about the Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba) at www.tamba.org.ukSuggest a correction