When I was in Junior High my favorite aunt gave birth to twins. She and I were very close and I spent a lot of time at her house, so it seemed natural to head to her place after school and help out with my cousins. I spent the first four years of their lives as one of their main caregivers until my aunt moved to another state for her job and I went to college.

After they moved I had very sporadic contact with them: for monetary reasons they didn’t come back to California very often and I was busy with school and work. They came to visit a few months ago and I was…disturbed. I’m not expert on children – I took a child development class in high school and I used to babysit – but it seems like the twins are far behind where they should be both socially and academically. I know that twins are usually a bit isolated, but this seems different.

My aunt and uncle pulled them out of the first grade (they should be in the fourth grade now) because their teacher complained that they weren’t able to complete the mandatory standardized testing – they played at their desks instead of finishing their tests. So my relatives decided to home school them – my uncle quit his job and became their teacher. While they still have weekly play dates for a few hours on Monday afternoon, it isn’t nearly as much as most children get.

When they came to visit I took them to a playground that had a locked fence (5″ tall). I helped them to climb it and discovered that:

1) It was the first time they had hopped a fence, and

2) It was the first time they climbed a structure that wasn’t man-made and intended for climbing. That means they’ve never climbed a tree, wall, piece of large furniture, etc. They’re ten.

They kept journals of their vacation and reading a few entries shocked me. Each page had a large drawing area, which the twins had taken the time to fill out with various events. It was the few lines below that worried me – they were filled with one and sometimes two sentences, but they were so…simplistic. Sentences like, “We read a book. It was called Goodnight Moon.” These seemed like writings from a far younger child. Plus the handwriting was strained – it was large and not well formed. I remember when I was in the fourth grade writing in capitals was popular and I remember everyone having much better handwriting than this, except the boys. Granted I don’t have any professional experience with children so maybe I’m wrong. Is this normal for a ten year old?

They were fairly knowledgeable about astronomy and were able to point out the big and little dippers. I don’t know if this means that they’re learning about things that interest them and less about standard subjects, but I’m concerned for them. Colleges care more about your writing skills than your ability to point out the north star. At least entrance essays focus more on writing anyway…

They were preemies but only about 3 weeks early. I know twins are usually behind their peers but this doesn’t seem right. Could their homeschooling be holding them back?

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