Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Surviving Kindergarten Orientation with Twins

First of all congratulations on surviving twins all the way to kindergarten! This in itself should be celebrated. Most likely your school will encourage you to separate them at this point. I separated mine in preschool and although it was hard at first, they quickly adjusted and thrived in their new independence and we all enjoyed the separation. It made reuniting that much sweeter and the rest of the day go smoother. My daughter Veronica can be shy around new kids and would often just go see Frankie in his room. Soon though she stopped having to do that and they would wave hello as their paths crossed. They are capable of more than we realize.

So we just left kindergarten orientation and I honestly feel like I got run over with a Mack truck. There is no precedence or direction for handling twins and 2 classrooms. So here is a list of things that would have made this huge milestone go a little smoother...

1. Go early and don't apologize or feel awkward for being the first one in the room. I was there sitting in the parking lot waiting when I should have been first in line.

2. Introduce yourself to each teacher and set their book bags and supplies in their chair. If their neighbors are there, great; say hi, introduce them, and move on. It is so chaotic they will not be forming some magical bond and meeting their BFF at this moment. You have shit to do.

3. Go sign up for conferences first and any volunteer choices you want to make. Yes I'm talking months away but if they offer this option be the first in line so that you can coordinate the times for each. Give yourself a 15 minute window in case one teacher is running late or you run over. I dropped the boat big time on this and am kicking myself because I will now have to find a sitter for 2 different days and times. Brutal

4. Pick a room. I suggest going to the twin who may be struggling a bit more with this new chapter or the one who is more shy. For us, it's my son Frankie. Any time there is change or something new, he clams up. Buries his head in my side and makes me want to start weeping right there. As soon as I can get him to try whatever new thing is happening, he is off and doing great. Utilize the counselors. They are gentle and sweet and can convince them to leave your side and take that tour with the rest of the kids. He came back 20 minutes later smiling and almost skipping. Realize you may be their crutch and that's ok but there are trained professionals ready to help ease the bandaid off. Use them.

5. You are going to get the same information basically from both teachers so you are really not missing anything by sticking to one room. I tried bouncing back and forth and almost missed the administration speeches about pick up/drop off procedures, who to contact with questions during the day, and information on speech therapy offered to all kindergarteners. The stuff I actually needed to hear.

6. If your school requires you to bring in supplies and offers a box through the PTA, don't do it. It's great to support the PTA but the last thing you want to be doing in the midst of the madness is labeling 2 sets of school supplies. Come prepared with EVERYTHING (that is reasonable) labeled. Then it's a matter of distributing those supplies as a last item on your check list. Other parents will be scrambling around and will make you feel anxious that you should be doing the same thing, but don't fall into it. You've got 2 little people that need your attention and care in this insane and overwhelming introduction to school. Make sure they are calm and see that you are calm through the chaos. 

7. If they are still nervous, take a minute after everyone has left and reintroduce them to their teachers. Reaffirm they can see each other if they need to. This may very well be the first time they are separated for a long period of time and at the very least they have always had each other in any new situation. Don't be afraid to request special care be taken into consideration when it comes to this, because they are special. If being able to see each other in the beginning helps grow their confidence; then the teacher should be in full support of that. Most teachers have dealt with twins and understand this, so to ease your own mind, have the talk.

8. Now go get ice cream and celebrate your success. And even though you've been counting down the days when they would be off to school (you know you have -- probably since the first days home from the hospital), if you shed a tear or two it's ok. They are your babies after all.

Now wish me luck that I can get them on the bus tomorrow without making too much of a spectacle of ourselves.

Are there any other tips you seasoned mothers can offer that I'm missing?