Michael and Daniel are starting school in September. They will be four on September 27. I hope they are not too young; although children can start school at 4 in Ireland, increasingly the trend seems to be to hold them back until they are 5. A parent I met recently thought that she had sent her son to school too early and he had been 4 the previous March. At the GAA, I was tortured by a man who said that his son had only just turned 4 and he was far, far too young to start school in September and he was putting in another year at pre-school. However, we got their uniforms the other day and they tried them on in complete delight, so I think that we are committed now. Also, I feel Michael is looking forward to having a little less one on one attention from his teacher.
Last week, Mr. Waffle went to a parents’ evening for children who were to start in September and met a college acquaintance from the cumann gaelach. Together they made painstaking conversation as Gaeilge. As the acquaintance went into computers, I’m not sure how that went (our Gaelic ancestors not having had a word for computers).
Mr. Waffle learnt some mildly useful things from the meeting even though our daughter has been in the school for a year. A copy of the disciplinary code was handed around. The principal explained that it was a little out of date but it would give parents an idea of what was expected. One woman asked why her daughter couldn’t have a pony tail. “Ah yes,” explained the principal, “it was drafted when it was a boys only school.”
We also got a photocopy of an Australians study from 1990 on how twins do in school. It reminded me of how remiss I have been in my own research. According to this twins are particularly at risk of language and reading delay if they are identical, if they are boys and if they have a sibling 2-3 years older. Well, at least they are not identical. In light of this I have been considering their speech. Daniel speaks very well and articulates clearly; Michael far less so. [Don't compare says the study reprovingly.] It is not clear to me whether this is just relative to Daniel or in absolute terms. Ho hum, always something to worry about. On the plus side, the study recommends letting them see their parents enjoying reading – I think that we could probably do that alright.
The study also emphasises that they need to be seen as individuals. I do regard them as two different individuals but the following things are true: they have never spent a night (or more than a small part of any day) apart; when you ask either how old he is, he will reply “we are three”, even when the other is not in the room; if one starts doing something, then the other invariably wants to do it too (although, I’m not sure that this proves anything, it is also true for their sister).