Avoiding Mistakes in Teaching Twins

I recently participated in a terrific radio discussion about the unique challenges that teachers face in teaching twins and multiples. There are a few myths and some misguided ideas about teaching twins that need to be corrected, and so this segment focused on what every educator and parent needs to know about teaching twins. CLICK HERE to listen to this 15-minute discussion.

Avoiding Mistakes in Teaching Twins

Rae Pica with Eve-Marie Arce, Susan M. Heim and Deborah J. Stewart

About the guests: Eve-Marie Arce is the author of Twins and Supertwins: A Handbook for Early Childhood Professionals and previously served as the president of the California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC). Susan M. Heim is the author of It’s Twins! Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed., is the Executive Educational Director over three childcare campuses.

Literacy for All: Getting Mental About Pictures

By Holly Engel-Smothers

Picture books from our childhood evoke warm, fuzzy feelings and can bring back a flood of memories. They remind us of some long lost friends: Winnie the Pooh, the “Goodnight Moon” bunny, Brown Bear. When we rediscover these classics, we can almost smell our childhood bedrooms, feel our blankies, and hear our own mom or dad reading to us.

But picture books are important for more than just the obvious “telling a story” reasons. They are not just for fun! The pictures in books are actually vital for children to learn to build mental pictures of a story. If we have a mental image of details from a story, then comprehension and understanding of the material are greatly increased.

One strategy to increase visual understanding and imaging of a story is to model using all five senses when looking at a picture. Some examples are:

“The rabbit smells the carrot soup.”

“The girl hears her daddy walking up the stairs.”

“The cat’s claws feel sharp.”

As your twins get closer to age two, they become more verbal and can put themselves in the place of characters to imagine their thoughts and feelings. There can be more conversation about what the characters in the book are doing and feeling. When discussing a picture, your two cuties may use simple “sign language” to indicate a smile for happiness, or hug themselves to indicate loving a pictured animal, or covering their ears to show that a pictured situation is loud, like in a circus or when a dog barks. Interpreting your twins’ ideas and reiterating them into sentences is a great way to increase vocabulary, listening skills, comprehension, and even bonding.

It isn’t advisable to make every page a “mini-lesson” in comprehension and visualization. When the situation, the book, and your twins present the right situation, then incorporate the five senses (or just one at the moment) to talk about a picture:

“What does the fish see?”

“What does the baby taste at lunch?”

“What does the bear hear on his walk?”

“What animal’s fur felt smooth when the girl touched it?”

“What does the mouse smell?”

At all ages, the importance of having a loving, pleasant experience is the first goal in literacy. The effort and time you put into reading time will not only create strong minds, but endearing memories for your sweet babies.

[NOTE: This article is one of many from parent educator and mom of twins (and a twingle), Holly Engel-Smothers, who will be sharing her wisdom and expertise on the subject of reading through this “Literacy for All” column, which will appear on a regular basis on TwinsTalk.]

April Is National Multiple Birth Awareness Month

The National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, Inc. (www.nomotc.org) has declared April 2009 the first National Multiple Birth Awareness Month. The following information on their website explains why this month is so important:

“With the incidences of multiple births on the rise, more families are faced with both the joys and challenges that face multiple birth families when dealing with medical complications, both pre- and post-term, financial hardships, and other unique issues that only impact multiple birth children and their families. The National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, Inc. (NOMOTC), along with its local chapters and other national sponsors, want to focus on creating a higher level of understanding of what those challenges are, as well as what support groups are in place to assist our multiple birth communities…. For 2009, our focus/theme will be on educating our communities on the vast network of support groups that are available to assist families with multiples.”

If your multiples group would like to hold an event to educate parents of multiples, educators, medical professionals and/or the media about the needs of multiple birth families, please visit NOMOTC’s website for ideas, promotional materials, and more. If you’re looking for a local support group to join, you can also find a list of organizations on the site. And, of course, keep coming back to TwinsTalk for online support!

How the World’s Largest Twins’ Festival Got Started

Every year, more than 3,000 sets of twins of all ages and from all around the world gather in Twinsburg, Ohio. It is the world’s largest annual gathering of twins! Held the first weekend in August, the Twins Days Festival is an occasion for fun, as well as scientific exploration. Each year, researchers and scientists show up to conduct various surveys and experiments with twin participants. Other events include a “Double Take” parade, a twins’ talent show, fireworks, a golf outing and other contests. There has even been a double wedding-twins marrying twins, of course! So, how did this amazing gathering get started? Here’s a history lesson:

Born on May 18, 1772, twins Moses and Aaron were born to Abel and Mary Wilcox in Killingworth, Connecticut. The twins were so identical that even their closest friends and family members had trouble separating them. They were also alike in temperament. If one was sad or ill, the other one became so, too, even if they were apart! As adults, they both served as officers in the War of 1812, and became prosperous merchants and manufacturers.

Their personal lives also ran parallel. They married sisters, Huldah and Mabel Lord, and both had nine children. With their families, they moved to Millsville, Ohio, and farmed together on jointly held land. They also sold small parcels of land for the Connecticut Land Company. Then the Wilcox twins made an odd request: They would give six acres of land to the town for a public square along with twenty dollars to be put toward building the first school if the town’s name was changed to Twinsburg. Their unusual request was granted!

The twins who did everything together nearly died together, too, only four years after arriving in Twinsburg. A few minutes after Aaron died in his home, Moses, who lived a half-mile away, is reported to have risen up in his bed and exclaimed, “My brother Aaron is dead, and I shall die, too,” which he did a little later in the day. The twins were buried together in the same grave, one above the other, in Twinsburg’s Locust Grove Cemetery.

A plaque in the town square reads: “In memory of Moses and Aaron Wilcox, the twin founders who gave Twinsburg its name, and this public park. They were unique in that they married sisters, had an equal number of children, held their property in common, were identical in appearance, were taken ill of the same disease, died on the same day, and are buried in the same grave.” It also states: “This monument erected as a permanent tribute to the foresight and integrity of the Wilcox twins who dedicated the land for this park and were instrumental in Twinsburg’s cultural, religious and educational growth.”

So, make your reservations now for the next gathering in Twinsburg, Ohio! Their official Web site is at www.twinsdays.org.