Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

What’s in a name?

By: LORRAINE O'CONNOR

Tuesday 04 April 2017

Every day we use children’s names without realising. Mark Twain (1835-1910) reminds us names are not always what they seem. The Welsh name Bzjxxllwcp is pronounced Jackson. However, what is in a name? Does it matter if we say a child’s name wrong, shorten it or don’t use it at all?

Irelands population is growing, with 182 languages spoken in our small island. English is Ireland’s first language, with Polish as the second. Working with different cultures, and languages on one hand may offer challenges, but is also offers many positive experiences. But, it does remind us, we need to be mindful, and respectful of children, and their names.

For us, as adults, we can all remember the time when someone got our name wrong through mispronunciation, or even shortening of our names. From an early age, I have been conscious of people spelling my name correctly, and as a child is was something which I found challenging if it was misspelt. As it didn’t represent me, the child behind the name. it was someone else. In my last position, we had children from diverse cultural backgrounds. Imagine, being part of a group of children, and one of the significant adults in your life doesn’t call or sing you’re your name correctly, or perhaps doesn’t say your name at all.

 

I remember, another practitioner and myself were reviewing the enrolment forms and there was a discussion regarding the pronunciation of one child’s name. There was a level of uncertainty on saying the name. On the open day, I approached the parent, and asked the correct pronunciation of their child’s name, and their also their own name. However, I felt the conversation challenged me as a practitioner, and I felt a level of vulnerability in my ability to ‘care’ for their child as I didn’t speak the language.

However, what I did know was, children learn from their surrounding environment, and from the adults around. From this, I could see the correct pronunciation of each child’s name was the first step towards an inclusive environment. There is a sense of identity which comes with a name: a culture, a story, and an individual. From this, there is a sense of belonging, where you feel respected as an individual, and affirmed for who you are.

Recently, as an adult, I experienced this sense of disconnect through a study visit to Norway. We visited an early years setting where Norwegian was the key language spoken. It was the first time I had experienced, we, as English speaking, were the minority within an early year’s environment. As an adult, introducing myself, I over-pronounced and shortened my name. While at the same time, my name was not used by the practitioners within the room throughout the 2 days. Within the group, I felt disengaged and a sense of sadness, but more so, I felt a sense of disconnect and embarrassment. Within this, I was the adult and I did have a voice.

 

Imagine being 3 years old, and being the minority. Mispronouncing, shortening or not using a child’s name may create a sense of isolation, a sense of loneliness, or a sense of frustration for them. A name signifies self-esteem, independence, emotions, culture, positive interactions, and respect. It signifies the child as an individual, with unique traits and abilities, and their own story. Using parents and children’s names in everyday practices from the time the door opens in the morning, to the time they leave your care is the foundation of respect, embracing diversity and sustaining positive interactions with the child and their families.

As the adult, we have the responsibility to encourage each child to be confident within their environment, and to create a positive sense of identity and belonging. Using the child’s name, shows we respect all children, and families. But more-so, that each child is provided with their right to a name, regardless of their ethnicity, background or culture. So, what I have learned is, to ask how to say a name if you are unsure and write down the phonetical pronunciation somewhere in the room where you can see it. As Mark Twain (1835-1910) remined us at the start, names are not always what they appear to be.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Laugh(1) Nonverbal(1) MECPI(1) Research Seminar(1) Afghanistan(1) RIE philosphy(1) Learning journals(1) ECEC(1) Primary School(2) Maynooth University(1) Family wall(1) Adoption(1) Vertical grouping(1) Diversity(1) First 5 strategy(1) Support(1) CIT(1) ReCreate(2) TOY Programme(1) Wonder(1) Arlene Forster(1) Buddies(1) Degree(1) Art(6) education(2) Titles(1) Penguins(1) Social Skills(1) maternity health(1) Time(1) Stress(2) Window(1) PIP(1) community(5) Reggio Children Network(1) Learning Stories(7) Plastic(1) Leargas(1) Self-Esteem(1) refugees(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) transitions(10) Frosty the Snowman(1) Mayo(1) New Appointments(1) Pen green(1) Mount Everest(1) trust(3) Map(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Fantasy play(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Aistear(105) curiosity(3) ECCE(6) Certificate(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Identity(4) play stories(1) Mud kitchens(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Patterns(1) Buddy Bench(1) University(1) Story(1) supportive environments(1) Through the looking glass(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Confidence(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Kilkenny(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Routines(1) overhear(1) UNCRC(1) Death(1) risk assessment(1) Positivity(1) Quality(3) UD(1) Early Years(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Mantra(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Irish(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) AIM(2) Role play(1) Budget 2018(1) IGL(1) InspireMe.ie(1) eating(1) Obesity(1) Affordability(1) Yoga(1) The Jelly King(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Painting(1) Kids Own(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Exclusion(1) Cognitive development(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) routine(2) christmas(8) Brain(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Book Club(2) Change(1) Wilenski(1) Craft(1) Visual Impairment(1) Feeding(1) CPD(1) communication(4) Twitter(1) STEM(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) dogs(1) Decisions(1) friendships(1) San Miniato(4) outdoor space(3) Care-giving routines(1) Magda Gerber(1) Graduate(1) Wrapping paper(1) Independence(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Childcare(2) UN(1) Little Buddies(1) Fabric(1) Capable(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Confident(1) Lego(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Anxiety(2) Awards 2018(3) Traffic Lights(1) Eritrea(1) Prexit(1) Recycling(2) listening(1) United Nations(1) Mark Twain(1) early years research(1) Magnavacchi(1) Smiles(1) Trade Unions(1) outdoor play(6) Inspirational(2) Visitors(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Orla Kenny(1) science week(2) Winter(1) child-centred approach(1) Relaxation(1) preschool(2) Sustainability(3) Awards 2019(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) play(29) baby room(1) EECERA 2016(1) dining experiences(1) Treasure Chest(1) Iraq(1) interacting(2) Self-regulation(1) Grief(1) Síolta QAP(1) Wesco(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Blocks(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) story time(1) journey(1) Thinking(1) Maths Week(1) Thank you(1) Laughter(1) Norway(2) Imagination(3) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) learning(15) Human Resources(1) Spiders(1) Mealtimes(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Drawing(2) Seas Suas(1) Body Language(1) Loss(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) emotions(2) early childhood educator(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Builders(1) Sport(1) mushrooms(1) Queues(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) NAEYC(1) Vietnam(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) National Holiday(1) Settling in(3) pets(1) Traditions(2) European Project(1) Professionalisation(4) Siolta blog(2) Creativity(4) Arithmetic(1) under 3's(3) TRAP(1) Snacks(1) Competent(1) ears(1) Music(3) Socioemotional development(1) curriculum(5) Children's Rights(1) Design(1) Communications(1) Giraffe(2) Autism(3) Margy Whalley(1) Performing(1) Love(2) Special Needs Assistants(1) Glitter(2) Names(1) Childhood(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) parents(5) RTE Investigates(1) Sustainable(1) Child mental health(1) Academics(1) Workplace well-being(1) Plants(1) Interactions(2) Snack Time(1) Graduation(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Training(2) Running(1) First 5(1) bonds(1) dublin(2) Trigonometry(1) Identity and Belonging(3) Funding(1) Qualifications(1) Limerick(1) emotional environment(1) worries(1) Our Little Seed(1) Children's Research Network(1) Sleep(1) dining(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Liz Kerrins(1) books(4) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Exercise(1) Iceland(1) Maths(4) Jillian van Turnhout(1) food(1) Scéalta Blog(82) Awards(2) Inter-generational learning(1) listen(1) Home Corner(1) outdoors(3) Frustrations(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Meet the Members(1) Horizon 2020(1) San Minia(1) scéalta(25) Xbox(1) Trick or treat(1) Workplace Relations(3) Sculptures(1) Favouritism(1) Belonging(3) Jenga(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) relationships(14) Teamwork(1) Playdough(1) Shapes(1) Maynooth(1) Advocacy(1) AsIAm(1) Scents(1) Interests(1) Engineering Ireland(1) budget(1) Sociodramatic play(1) animals(2) Trade union(1) Montessori(2) Supernanny(1) Halloween(2) CCTV(1) Engineers Week(2) Bereavement(1) linc(1) Educators(1) conversations(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Valentine's Day(3) Masterclass(2) ICBN(1) Cork(1) Behaviour(3) Touch(1) Environment(2) Educator of the Year Award(3) Maternity Leave(1) SPICE Framework(1) Pobal sector profile(1) social media(1) Leprechauns(1) Oireachtas(1) Syria(1) Health(1) Exploring(1) Interaction(1) Early Years Educators(1) role playing(1) Decision Making(1) educarer(1) Employee(1) Shoes(1) DCYA(4) Administrative Burden(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Research and Professional Learning(1) Line-ups(1) College(1) stories(2) Challenges(1) Malaguzzi(1) INTO(1) Japan(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) EM Standing(1) Easter(1) Children(1) Sequins(1) planning(1) Meal time(1) Mixed age groups(2) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Recycle(1) Community involvement(1) Party(1) respect(5) Event Guide(1) Self Help Skills(1) Engineering(2) National Awards 2019(1) Inclusion(3) Rising to the Challenge(2) Learning Story(1) Creative(1) Snakes(1) Online(1) risky play(2) Celebrate(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Communicating(1) Performance Management(1) Empathy(1) Mathematicians(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Biting(1) reading(4) Italy(1) Nutrition(1) National Awards 2018(2) Gardening(1) Santa(2) Consent(1) Care routines(1) Celebrations(4) Mo Scéal(1) Mental Health(3) GDPR(1) Academic Skills(1) Storytelling(2) Facebook(1) Arts(1) Síolta(100) Appreciation(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) feisty(1) Thanks(1) Study Trip(1) Ceremony(1) risk(2) MA(1) science(3) Mindfulness(2) memories(1) educating(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Albert Einstein(1) Reggio(1) development(8) Breathing(2) Rituals(1) environments(1) Maria Montessori(1) Potential(1) Time Out(1) babies(7) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Culture(2) grandchild(1) experience(1) Games(1) Flowers(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) ERASMUS+(3) toddlers(3) blog(28) Treasure(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Photographs(1) Kerry(1) Technology(2) Investment(1) Pobal(1) research(6) Policy(2) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Playschool(1) documentation(2) Learning Story Awards(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Inter-generational(1) Upcycling(1) Workforce(1) Magic(1) Wendy Lee(2) meals(3) Universal Design(2) Exit interview(1) Impact(1) Family(1) Light table(1) Weather(1) Well-Being(6) Sweets(1) Budget 2019(2) Dance(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) NCCA(2) Gratitude(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine