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Abstracts

Twins: Exploring Implications For Their Interactions With Parents And Classroom Placement At School

02 December 2019

Author: Kate Abigail Brant

The present thesis considers possible influences on the development of twins in both the home and school environment.

The first chapter critically assesses the available evidence on whether parenting twins is associated with differences in parent-child relationship and in associated behavioural and emotional outcomes for twins. The second chapter presents the experiences of parents and school staff of the decision-making process about classroom placements of twins for reception-class entry.

A systematic review was conducted to assess whether there are differences between twin and singleton groups in early infancy. The review focused specifically on assessing differences in parental affect, parent-child interactions and how this could affect the quality of parent child relationship and children’s emotional and behavioural outcomes.

The results from this review highlight that parents of twins experience greater and a more prolonged period of stress when their children are in early infancy as well as greater mental health difficulties and reduced feelings of parental efficacy.

The review also reports inconsistencies in the identified literature regarding differences in parent-child interactions between twin and singleton groups.

However, there are consistent findings within the identified literature which reported that twin and singleton infants’ relationship quality with their parents and emotional and behavioural outcomes do not differ.

The results from the systematic search are discussed in relation to emotional sensitive responsiveness and the potential protective factor of the twin relationship.

A qualitative study which involved 12 interviews conducted with parents (i.e. with 11 mothers and one parent-pair) and 15 with school managers. Thematic analysis following Brown and Clark’s (2006) six steps identified a number of important shared and distinct themes.

The importance of twins’ individuality was emphasised by both parents and school managers. When deciding on placement, parents and school managers considered a balance between the twins’ needs for support and independence.

Parents’ experiences of their interactions with the school relating to their twins’ school placement were often linked to their perceptions of their relationship with the school, especially as parents felt it was an important decision. Thus, the perceived negative experiences of interactions with schools during the decision making process were reflected in more negative perceptions of the school and the home-school relationship during that time.

However, these views could change over time. In addition, practicalities of classroom placements were reported by parents; school managers also reported school factors which could influence the decision.

School managers used their experiences to inform their views. Their perception of who should make the decision (e.g. school, parents, or collaboratively) influenced their communication with parents, their perception of twin sets as different, and how they balanced children’s support and independence at transition to school.

Extracted themes are discussed in relation to the development of identity and autonomy, attachment theory and parent trust in schools.

Effective home-school collaboration during the decision-making process is recommended for good practice.

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