I never imagined I would be the mom to twin boys, or that I’d be homeschooling. Through God’s amazing grace, I am doing both.During the 10 years I’ve been parenting my twins and the 5 years we have been homeschooling, I’ve learned that both parenting and homeschooling bring daily joy as well as daily challenges. I’ve often heard that it must be so easy homeschooling twins. It’s not as easy as you might expect.
Like any family with multiple children being homeschooled at the same time, I try to remain flexible, patient and aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each child. There are some specific obstacles that twins face. At times I experience people wanting to treat each of the boys as equals; equal in their likes and dislikes, creative ability, athletic interests and learning ability. They are sometimes treated so similarly that people even see them as one person. For example they may get one shared gift at Christmas or a birthday. And it is common for people to refer to them as “the twins” rather than by their individual names.
Since their birth, I’ve be very deliberate to treat them as individuals, never dressing them alike unless they request it, of course, which often happened when they were younger. I have always used the same curriculum with my twins, but that alone can cause problems. If one child is not “getting it” the way his sibling is, he can feel very discouraged. On the other hand, sharing a curriculum can motivate him to work harder because he wants to keep up with his sibling. It can get a bit complicated, but understanding how our twins groove, how they react, and what motivates them has been a big help.
When they were young, they enjoyed being similar, but as they have gotten older, the individual in each child has come rushing out. Thankfully, through all their changes they remain each other’s best friend. They can be conflicted about this at times, wanting to be similar, but wanting to be seen as individuals. If one expresses an interest or particular competency with a subject or activity, the other will often times want to participate as well even if it’s not their true interest or talent. Often the one without the “natural” capacity can become frustrated or discouraged that he cannot “be as good as his brother.” So one of the challenges of having twin sons is to keep each boy encouraged that he does not have to be like his brother and that he does not have to be as good as him in a particular talent or subject.
There are times that the desire to be like his brother benefits me as their teacher. If one child does not want to work on a particular lesson, watching his brother eagerly complete this same lesson encourages the other twin to do the same. Often I am able to just sit back and let this happen without coaxing. One child may ask “Well, what did he do?” Sharing that his brother completed the task is enough motivation for the other twin to give it his best effort.
There are other times when I feel like the ball in a tennis match. Because my twins are working on the same lessons, I find myself bouncing back and forth when questions come at the same time. Through these few years that we have been homeschooling, we’ve thankfully fallen into our own rhythm and have found our own personal way to remedy this. Patience, for me, is key. The thing about patience is that you never believe you have it until you are forced to use it. From their infancy, they have had to learn patience, for example while waiting for their turn at a feeding. I have had to learn my own patience in so many mommy ways.
In many ways, homeschooling twins is no different than homeschooling multiple aged children. The biggest lesson I have learned from being a homeschooling mom to twins is that though they may look alike, they are different. It’s taught me that one specific way to teach can bring about two very different results based on the child’s personality or learning ability. Realizing this fact has given me freedom as a mom. It has taught me to adapt and modify when necessary and to be flexible. From my experience, twins have an amazing and unique bond. I feel filled with joy as I’m able to watch that bond grow and change.
-Mary (originally published many yrs ago, but the facts remain the same)