Differential Instruction and Twins

Big D asked me today, when Beara announced that she was almost done with her Get Ready for the Code: Book A (a primer for Explode the Code, aka ETC), “why do Beara and I have different ETC books?”  Big D is halfway through ETC 1, the first book in the main series.

This is a question that I’ve dreaded ever since I did the Book 1 pretest with Big D and she knew all the consonant sounds, and, well, Beara didn’t.  Not a fun situation to find oneself in when homeschooling twins.


I, personally, don’t like competition, and have tried to model a collaborative, not competetive learning style for our kids.  I think it is somewhat hardwired though, or maybe inherited from their competitive father, but my twin girls definately take each other’s measure on a regular basis.  “I won,” “I saw it first,” and “I’m ahead of you in HWT” are phrases that I hear daily.  Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any malice or even teasing what they are saying, but I have noticed that neither of the girls likes to feel ‘behind’ the other.

Thus my dreading this question.  I quietly said to Big D that she reads better than Beara does.  She looked at me quizzically, which kind of threw me.  With all the comparing they do, how could she not have noticed?  Maybe this is a sibling thing, to not notice *actual* disparities, only imagined/temporary ones? 

Congrats, Beara!!

Regardless, I gave Beara the pretest for Book 1 today, and she sailed through it, so Daddyman just went and got Beara her own copy, which she’ll begin next week.  I’ve warned her that Big D is already halfway through the book, but it didn’t seem to phase her.  Heck, if she gets really motivated to ‘catch up’, it will make lesson planning much easier! 

It brings up a larger point, though.  I try to emphasize with our kids that hard work is the means to success, but, surely, at some point in their lives they are going to notice something that one of them is better at than the other, be it a natural aptitude, something the other person has just worked really hard at, or something that just seems to defy their learning, like French grammar did me.  (No Rosetta Stone back in the 1980’s, alas!) 

The know that they are different, and expect to be, but differences are easier to handle when it is favorite colors, or a preference for music or quiet while they work.  (Yup, Beara is officially getting on Big D’s nerves.  Joy.)  Thankfully this conversation didn’t come up until Beara was ready to move into the same realm Big D works in, but what about next time?  I know that I’m lucky though – eventually it will come up when the difference is vast, and everyone is listening. 

Part of me hopes that on that day I’ll be able to say that one girl has been working harder than the other.  Sad to say that I’d like to make one child sound like a slacker, but that is something that can be remedied.  If they hear and internalize messages about ‘smartness’ from the larger community before that day, that conversation is likely to be much more painful…

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