What's the best course of action for educating twins?


twins in class

There comes a time that, as the parent of twins, one has to make a crucial decision:

Should I keep them together or should I separate them?

This is a particularly pressing decision to be made in the case of identical twins.

Think about it: they share the same DNA, they look exactly alike (to most people outside of the immediate family) and they are, by most accounts, at the same stage of development. The natural course of action that is taken is to keep them together, at least for the early days of preschool and Kindergarten.

My boys are figuratively joined at the hip, doing almost everything together including bathing, playing, sleeping and fighting. They are each other’s best friends and worst enemies, depending on the day and time. They love each other. They despise each other. And if they had the maturity to provide some perspective on their relationship, I have no doubt that they would not have it any other way.

Yet, like most parents of identical twins, I’m acutely aware of the natural inclination to treat the children the same. After all – it’s easy to get lulled into thinking that the kids are two parts of a whole, that they are more or less the same, because of the simple fact that, to the untrained eye, they look the same.

In spite of this fact, they are individuals, reality that becomes increasingly important to them as they navigate the world, correcting those who think that they are their brother – and vice versa. Without being an identical twin, it’s hard to imagine always being mistaken for someone else, or, on the flip side, having someone who looks exactly like you. It must be simultaneously annoying and amazing.

Fraternal twins are often grouped together by outsiders as well, though not as much, especially if the twins don’t look alike, or are of different sexes. While the incidences of comparison are not as high as they are with identical twins, the tendency to do so by outsiders exists nonetheless. Teachers who have a pair of twins in their class – identical or fraternal – often naturally make comparisons between the siblings, as it is human nature to do so.

During the early stages of socialization, e.g. preschool, daycare and Kindergarten, it makes sense to take the simple route and put them together in the same class. This way, there’s no trauma at the prospect of being alone in a new social environment without the comfort of that sibling that will be their guide, confidante and friend, no matter what.

But the time will come where a choice must be made: should they remain together, joined at the proverbial hip to offer support to their sibling, or should they part ways, venture into the world (or classroom) alone and gain their independence?

The right answer is not an easy one, and as a parent having to make this choice, its particularly stress-inducing.

Like any critical decision, the pros and cons must be weighed in order to make the right decision. This is a tricky one, as there good arguments on both sides of the fence – a fact that doesn’t make it easier for the parents in making a decision. As a parent struggling with making a decision about what the right choice is for my kids, I know I’m not alone. Knowing that the choice made will have long-reaching effects on my kids makes the decision to separate the twins – or not – even more daunting. To this end, I thought it would be a good idea to list both the positive and negative implications of separating twins at school. Here’s what I came up with:

Pros and Cons of Separating Twins at School

Pros:

  1. Each twin is better able to foster a sense of individuality
  2. Dependency on each other is decreased, allowing each twin to gain confidence in their own abilities
  3. The incidences of being compared to or confused with the other twin is eliminated
  4. The absence of the other twin provides an environment where each twin can “grow” into their own personalities and characters
  5. Competition between twins will decrease when they’re not in the same classroom daily
  6. The absence of the other twin as a “built-in” friend and companion will allow each twin to form friendships with other children

Cons:

  1. The comfort of knowing that their twin is immediately close by is removed, a fact that may increase anxiety amongst some twins
  2. Twins often rely on each other to provide support emotionally; twins who are separated may have increased difficulty relying on others for a certain level of emotional support
  3. The effect of emotional distress and anxiety that some twins may feel being separated from their sibling may affect their academic progress in school
  4. Parents of twins separated at school will have to navigate double the amount of school-related activities on behalf of their kids (two separate parent-teacher interview appointments, two separate parent volunteer days at school, etc.)

Conclusion: While I’d love to say what the definitive answer is to this question, unfortunately the jury is out. While it may appear that solely on the basis of pros and cons, the scale tips on the side of separating the twins, this is not necessarily the case. Each set of twins are individuals and their ability to positively advance in school, separated or not, depends on a number of factors. These include the personalities of each twin, their ability to adapt to change, and the level of mutual reliance on each other. It would be great to have a “one-size fits all” answer but as we all know, most important decisions related to kids are not ever simple.

On a related note, here’s an extreme case of twins being separated at birth with an incredibly positive outcome:

Separated at Birth, Reunited on Facebook

So what are your thoughts and experiences about separating twins at school? Is it a good idea to keep them together or better to separate them? What are your reasons for the choices that you made? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Yeah, SCIENCE!

by Samantha on March 29, 2015

Parents can enjoy Netflix while also teaching their kids about science

DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. 

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But, why, Mom, why?!?

If you’re a parent, you’ve heard this question many times. Why is the sky blue? How do birds fly? Why do volcanoes explode?

Science.

Young minds are always looking for answers and kids are generally curious about the way things work. As parents we often have the answers but there are just as many times that we don’t. When we’re not sure what to say to our kids when they ask us these types of questions, we can go down the conventional route and look up the answers in a book or online or we can make it fun and interesting and get a little bit of relaxation as well as education in the process. I don’t know about you, but option #2 is a no-brainer in my books.

As a big Netflix fan, I’m always happy to oblige when my kids want to queue up some shows, and even more so if I can kill two birds with one stone. What’s better than being able to chill out in front of the TV with the kids without feeling guilty that you’re giving in to allowing your children to indulge in mindless entertainment for an hour or two? It’s possible to find the answers to your kids’ myriad of science-based questions all while kicking back with your feet up, some popcorn in hand and Netflix streaming. What could be better?

To get your kids excited about the laws of science and various truths, how about starting with these shows, all of which have a scientific flair?

DEADLIEST VOLCANOES

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HUNTING THE ELEMENTS

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COSMOS

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For the smaller scientist in the household, here are some shows to stimulate his or her inner Einstein:

THE MAGIC SCHOOLBUS

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FETCH WITH RUFF RUFFMAN

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ANIMAL MECHANICALS

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SID THE SCIENCE KID

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Of course, once you have the Netflix queued, you may want to check out some more adult-flavoured programming when the kids finally go to bed for the evening. How about a show about a mild-mannered high-school chemistry teacher who teaches a former student all about the subtleties of how mixing certain chemicals together can result a new chemical form that may be highly sought by others.

BREAKING BAD

Breaking-Bad-Heisenberg

And for you adult fans of Breaking Bad, also on Netflix, here you go:

Yeah, SCIENCE!

What are your favourite science-themed shows to watch with the kids on Netflix? Leave me your recommendations in the comments section below.

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How old should a child be before they're able to go to a public bathroom alone?


public washroom

We’ve all been there.

You’re out with your young child and all of a sudden, he/she announces “I have to go pee!!” You know that this type of warning means that time is of the essence and that a toilet needs to be found, now.

If you’re the parent of a child that is the opposite sex from you, you have a problem, especially if that child is “of a certain age.” In some cases, this can mean over the tender age of six. Yes, six.

Recently, a sign was seen warning parents to leave their boys who were over the age of six out of the women’s bathroom and to let them go alone to the men’s facilities.

To say that this is a problem is an understatement, at least in my opinion, and in the opinion of the many other parents who helped to make this image go viral. Here’s the offending sign:

boys over 6 sign

As a parent of young boys (twins), I know them well and know that my comfort level in allowing them into a public bathroom without me is not there yet. There are the practical problems: they may need help wiping or washing their hands, or even reaching the sink. I want to make sure they don’t touch too many things in the bathroom. They may need me to undo and do up their pants.

Then there are the more disturbing potential problems: what if there is a questionable person or persons in the bathroom who may pose a threat to my son(s)?

As a parent, I can’t help but feel that erring on the side of caution is best in these instances and therefore, my child will stay with me if they need to go to the bathroom, at least until I feel comfortable enough to let them go in on their own. At the end of the day, parents know their kids best and should be the ones making the decision about when their kids are ready to confidently venture into a public bathroom without their parent. An arbitrary age shouldn’t be dictated to determine bathroom abilities or the lack thereof.

On a related note, for those insisting on a specific cutoff age for going into a public bathroom with an opposite-sex parent, I would ask them the following: How do you determine a child’s age? Do you ask for a birth certificate? What about those kids that look older or younger than they really are?

In case it’s not clear, I think that six is much too young to be going into a public bathroom alone. I accompany my kids at this age and will continue to do so until I feel that they can handle things by themselves. As a mother, I will not be told that I  have to leave my children alone in a potentially vulnerable situation. And clearly, based on the response to this topic, I’m not alone in this sentiment.

Check out the Huffington Post Live segment below on the subject where I weigh in and provide my perspective, along with other parents:

VIDEO: The Public Restroom Challenge For Parents

So what do you think? How old should a child be before they can go into a public bathroom alone? Would you feel comfortable letting a six-year-old go into a public bathroom without you? Why or why not? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

Image courtesy of www.scrapetv.com

Image courtesy of Oklahoma City Moms Blog

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CBC investigation reveals more questions than answers on this increasingly popular tactic

Hmmm…seems as if I’m not the only one with questions about the charitable donations that are being requested at the checkout.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that the trend towards “checkout charity” is one that gets under my skin.

Why?

Because there is little accountability about where the requested money is going to and consumers are being put on the spot to donate. A CBC Marketplace investigation revealed that a number of companies employing this practice are not as transparent regarding the details of how checkout charity funds are spent. You can read more about it here:

Checkout donations: Poor transparency about where the money goes

In terms of consumers, many feel shamed into donating at the cash register for fear of appearing cheap in front of the cashier and those who are lined up behind them. Instead of feeling good about their donation, or their decision to decline, they leave the store with a bad taste in their mouths.

Checkout Charity

Doing what they do best, the folks at CBC Marketplace set out to get to the bottom of this practice by asking the tough questions that us average consumers want answered. What Marketplace’s investigation revealed was surprising, to say the least.

Check out the full episode below featuring yours truly, as well as interviews with spokespersons from companies that employ this tactic. I was very surprised at what was revealed in the episode and would love to hear your thoughts on these details as well. Looking forward to your feedback in the comments section below.

FULL EPISODE: CHECKOUT CHARITY – DOING GOOD, FEELING BAD

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Kids' selections provide a variety of ideas for young imaginations

DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own.

“What will I be when I grow up?”

Way back when, kids would dream of being a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker. These desires seem quaint now, as children have much more lofty goals for themselves, fuelled by active imaginations. Whether they dream of being an astronaut, a nuclear physicist, a writer or otherwise, the sky’s the limit when you’re a kid with a dream.

As parents, we strive to foster independent, happy and successful children and do our best to support them in whatever choices they want to make regarding their future careers. Of course, these plans tend to change often, as kids fantasize about the numerous options that they’ve heard about or, more likely, seen on TV or in the movies.

If your child is still trying to make up his or her mind about their future career, you’re not alone. When the sky’s the limit, why stop at just one profession? Netflix has a number of features that will both entertain your kids as well as help them figure out what they really want to be when they grow up.

As the mother of young boys, I’d be lying if I said that they didn’t profess to want to be firemen or construction workers. If you’re in the same boat, Netflix provides a number of shows that will keep your junior firefighters and hardhats engaged.

Fireman Sam is a great show for kids who have big dreams of putting our fires and saving lives.

Fireman Sam Pic

 

Bob the Builder is a favourite in our house as my boys get to  follow the construction adventures of Bob and his crew.

Bob the Builder pic

Or perhaps your child dreams of living the high life, where work isn’t part of the equation (one can only dream!). Let the kids fantasize and check out the Netflix original, Richie Rich.

Richie Rich pic

For older kids, there are a number of selections to get their minds going.

If your child dreams of finding their bliss through winter sports such as snowboarding, the Art of Flight series is a great selection.

Art of Flight pic

Does your son or daughter enjoy cooking and helping out in the kitchen? If so, foster their inner chef by watching The Mind of a Chef, narrated by Anthony Bourdain.

The Mind of a Chef pic

What does your child want to be when they grow up? Help them figure it out with these and other Netflix selections. Leave your selections about your favourite shows in the comments section below as well!

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CBC Marketplace – Checkout Charity

February 16, 2015

CBC program investigates the popular trend of soliciting donations at the checkout “Checkout Charity” is a thing. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. I’ve discussed the topic on more than one occasion, both on this blog and in the media. For details, click on the link below. IN THE NEWS: Is “Checkout […]

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When Your Child’s Pet Dies – Top 5 Tips For Parents

February 13, 2015

How to help your child get through the loss of a beloved companion There comes a time when most parents must deal with the inevitable – the death of a beloved family pet. This occurrence is even more painful when the pet is the particular companion of a young child. Your son or daughter likely […]

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Let’s End the Myth of the “Evil Twin”

January 31, 2015

There is no “good” twin and “bad” twin in the pair – let’s end this fallacy It was an otherwise mundane Saturday at Costco. With three kids in tow, I sauntered through the aisles, plying myself and the kids with free samples and piling up my shopping cart with bulk items, many of which I […]

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Baby it’s Cold Outside: Netflix Picks For Winter Weather

January 30, 2015

How to keep the kids entertained during the winter season DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. Baby, it’s cold outside! Between the snow, ice, and temperatures in the […]

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Huffington Post Live – Free-Range Parenting vs. Helicopter Parenting

January 24, 2015

How much freedom should a child be given, and at what age? Where do we draw the line? Where do a parent’s right to making a decision about their child or children end and the rest of the world’s responsibilities begin? Working from the assumption that most of us have the best interest of children […]

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