Built-in Besties' First Big Day

It was a big morning in the Watkins’ household. Identical twins Ben and James had been anticipating their first day in Prep at Brisbane Adventist College, Mansfield, for what seemed like forever and the big day had finally arrived. Uniforms on, backpacks loaded, and photos dutifully taken, the time it took to drive to school was spent asking last-minute questions and absorbing expert advice from worldly big sister Grace who is in Year 5 this year.

Parents Kirsty and Tim, on the other hand, were more nervous, knowing that today could present challenges for the five-year-old boys. The twins have some medical challenges as well as hearing loss, which makes it difficult to pick out individual sounds against background noises. They would need a variety of visual learning options and other strategies, and Kirsty and Tim knew it would take a patient teacher, one who’s willing to communicate clearly with them.

“It gives us confidence that the school has worked with us to introduce assistive technology and make other modifications,” said Tim, “and that the teaching team has taken the time to understand learning styles that might work the best for Ben and James.”

“Coming to the Prep stay-and-play day last year also made a big difference. We had something real to reference when we chatted with them about starting school,” said Kirsty. “They talked about playing with the teachers and the older student mentors, who were very kind and patient with them. The College also hosted a pancake morning tea in November for the Prep class of 2024, which the boys loved – but we had to manage expectations about how often the principal, Mr Charleson, would be cooking them pancakes!”

Still, Ben and James did have a little hurdle to overcome early on. They discovered they would be sitting at different tables – and that is not how they had imagined it! “They seemed a little shaken,” said Tim, “but we know the teachers will be looking out for them, and life is full of little challenges like that. They had a plan to wave to each other across the room if they felt lonely.”

Sure enough, although the twins were a little more tired and dishevelled this afternoon than this morning, they were happy with their day, excited about tomorrow, and already making plans for the future. “They’ve decided they’ll sign to each other across the classroom using Auslan if they feel the need to connect and teach their new Prep friends some signs too,” said Tim. “They’ve also made plans to join the choir in Year 2 and can’t wait to get across the bridge to start Secondary!” Hold your horses, boys. Enjoy every minute!