New Research Report Challenges Common Administrative Policy Enforcing Twin Separation in Kindergarten

A comprehensive new research report published this week in Educational Policy reveals that kindergarten separation is traumatic for many young twins and confirms that many school principals separate twins in school against the wishes of both the children and their parents. This investigation by Dr. Lynn Melby Gordon at California State University, Northridge is the first study to explore the separation of twins in kindergarten by directly comparing and examining the beliefs of elementary principals, kindergarten teachers, parents, and twins.

The report is a significant contribution to the literature, as research in the area of twins and school separation is very limited. The results of the research do not support mandatory school separation policies for all twins.

The primary between-groups comparison shows that principals are much more likely to believe that twins should be separated in kindergarten compared to the beliefs of kindergarten teachers, parents of twins, and young twins. While a majority (71%) of the principals surveyed believed that twins should be separated in kindergarten, only 49% of the teachers, 38% of the parents, and 19% of the preschool and kindergarten twins agreed.

This study reveals that most principals express a strong bias toward the ideals of individualism and independence and tend to discount the positive aspects of twin affiliation or twin bonding between young twins. A troubling finding from the group of principals surveyed is that over half of separation-favoring-principals believe that twins do better academically when they are placed in separate classes and almost one quarter erroneously believe that research indicates that twins do better academically when they are placed in separate classes. These presumptions are not supported by the existing body of twin research. Instead, studies tend to show either no difference in the academic achievement of twins placed together versus apart or that academic achievement tends to be better when twins are placed together.

Other findings: • 81% of preschool and kindergarten twins want to stay together in kindergarten, but 58% of twins are separated into different classes. • 3% of all twins who are placed in separate classes are very traumatized by kindergarten separation and an additional 17% are somewhat traumatized, according to their parents. • Female identical twins are the most likely to report wanting to stay together in the same class in kindergarten (100% in study sample). • Most parents favor joint placement of twins in kindergarten. Perhaps not surprisingly, 95% of parents believe that they know their kids best and believe that schools should try to honor their class placement requests for twins. • 90% of kindergarten teachers would not mind having a set of twins in their class. • A full 69% of principals believe that separation is probably a little traumatic, and 6% believe that separating twins in kindergarten is very traumatic.

Additional results describe principals’ and parents’ reasons for separation beliefs held and twins’ positive and negative reactions to school separation. Representative belief statements of twins, categorized into themes, supplement the paper.

The complete Twins and Kindergarten Separation research report includes a review of circumstances when twins are likely to benefit from class separation. For example, when twins display pronounced behavior problems with one another at home or in preschool, parents recognize this to be a clear and practical reason to separate those individuals, at least for a few hours a day when they go to elementary school—but the study’s primary conclusion is that, unless there is a compelling reason to separate twins, it is often best to keep them together, at least in kindergarten.

As Gordon explains, school leaders should know that when a pair of twins has a genuine preference to stay together in school, it does not necessarily indicate a pathological codependence, a lack of individuality, or an inability to make friends with other children—it is, more likely, simply indicative of a healthy, supportive relationship.

It is hoped that the full research report published today by Educational Policy will be disseminated widely to school leaders in order to encourage principals to take parent and twin requests into account and to avoid making unilateral class placement decisions.


Lynn Melby Gordon, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Elementary Education at California State University, Northridge. 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8265. Email:

Citation for Source Article:

Gordon, L. M. (2014). Twins and kindergarten separation: Divergent beliefs of principals, teachers, parents, and twins. Educational Policy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0895904813510778

Figure 1 is from Gordon, L. M. (2014). Twins and kindergarten separation:

Divergent beliefs of principals, teachers, parents, and twins. Educational Policy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0895904813510778)

Link to the Educational Policy Advance Online Publication:

Tip: Access the research report through a library to avoid the research article purchase fee charged by Educational Policy.

Resources related to classroom placement:

Research studies on school placement:


Lynn Gordon, Ph.D.


Department of Elementary Education

California State University, Northridge