Twins Adjusting to First Grade Differently

I have boy/girl twins. They went to preschool and spent part of their first kindergarten together without any identity crisis. We moved and they were put into separate kindergartens because it is the "policy" and luckily they both did fine. My son was "looped" into first grade with his kindergarten teacher and with his easygoing personality is as cool as a cucumber. My daughter has a new teacher and none of her friends were placed in the same class with her. She seems very stressed and is behaving badly. (It's hard not to compare when you've got twins.) Should I be concerned about their differing patterns of adjustment?

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Parenting twins certainly has its own trials, let along parenting school age children. Your concern for your daughter is clear, particularly compared to the relative ease with which your son has adjusted to first grade.

Each school year, teachers must get to know their students, establish rules and a general atmosphere in the classroom, and set the groundwork for the curriculum. Looping allows a teacher to remain with the same group of children for a second school year, which makes the "honeymoon" period almost non-existent because the children already know the rules, expectations, and their classmates. The period of adjustment in the more traditional setting where the children are assigned to a new teacher can last from one to three weeks. Often it takes that long for teachers to assess their new students, establish routines, and develop the daily schedule.

Children show signs of stress in a variety of ways much as adults do. Some children may cry or have physical symptoms that they misinterpret as illness. Stomach aches and headaches may be the result of anxiety and not illness. Some kids may just say straight out that they don't want to go to school, but not really be able to tell you why they feel that way. Loss of appetite and lack of motivation are among other signs of stress. If you feel that your child is experiencing stress, offer her lots of affection and comfort by way of quiet time together. Share some childhood memories of your own with her, giving her a window of opportunity to share her own feelings with you.

Finally, it is never too early to schedule a conference with your child's teacher. By comparing notes with the teacher, you may resolve some of your own anxieties, as well as those of your child. Consistent, open communication is the key to a successful relationship between parents and teachers. Call your daughter's teacher, or write a note requesting a meeting at the earliest convenience for both of you.

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