Nurseries provide a great environment for all aspects of learning in the first 4 years: learning how to interact with other children and adults, messy play (which someone else cleans up!) and a safe introduction to life outside the home.
Asking other parents for recommendations is a good starting point. Try to think about the suitability of each option for each child individually, as well as for the children together. It’s a good idea to talk to the nursery about whether they have a ‘multiples policy’. The best policies state that every situation is different and the needs of every child are assessed individually. However, being able to show that they understand and recognise the uniqueness of multiples and their relationships is a good place to start.
Talk to the staff who will have direct contact with your children and find out their knowledge about multiples and dispel any myths that emerge. Remember that you are the expert on your children. Twins Trust has an information sheet 'A Teachers Guide to Twins Triplets or More in School' which you may find helpful to give to staff.
It may be possible for each child to have a different key person* even if they attend the same sessions. This can make it easier to discuss the children’s progress without making comparisons and can give the children a sense of independence. This should come down to your choice following discussion with the nursery - what will be most effective for your multiples may not work for another family so keep an open dialogue with the nursery about your children need. You may also find it useful to give a copy of our Individuality factsheet to each of your children’s key workers .
*individual members of staff assigned to individual children and who are responsible for the building relationships and monitoring your child’s development during their time at nursery
Together or apart?
There is no one right answer to this question. It will depend on your children’s characters and the way they interact with each other.
You wish to arrange for the children to attend some sessions together, but others separately, or indeed be in separate rooms to each other, this needs to be a discussion with the nursery to see if this is possible. This can be difficult logistically and might not work for your multiples, but it gives your children a chance to experience time without their sibling/s. Playgroups and nurseries can be expensive for families with twins or more, so always try asking for a discount or see if a grant is available.
Tips for preparing children for nursery:
- Encourage their individuality from the very beginning, for example having their own individual bags and pegs.
- Get them used to doing things on their own (going to the toilet, for example) so that they don’t mind being separated.
- Make sure they can dress themselves (individually, without each other’s help) – this will depend on your children’s ages.
- Talk to the children about what will happen at playgroup or nursery, including how they will each make new friends. Talk to them individually, so they can voice their own individual fears and expectations.
- If you have played down the ‘twinship’, check that the children know what twins or triplets are. Someone is bound to call them ‘the twins’ or ‘the triplets’ at some stage!
- When the children have settled in, encourage them to invite friends home to play.
- If the children are identical or very similar, make it easy for the children and nursery staff to know which child is which – even if they are running round outside in the distance. Things that might help are different hairstyles /ribbons, the shape or colour of glasses; badges, clothes labelled with initials, or consistently different clothes.