What Is In A Name?

Early childhood is a big parade (elephants, ponies, brass bands, balloons, and confetti) of never-ending names and labels strung together. Think about how many word/name labels we throw around each day. Now add the stomping feet, the yelling and milling crowds, the clanging and blasting horns. How do we help children get to the details while the rush of "school" and its distractions are all around?

During class time, take a few minutes each day to slow down and tell the children YOUR name. And then do it again. Do not assume the children know your name, ever, even if you have known them for years. Encourage the children to say your name back to you.*

My husband's family is huge (and let me tell you, they can talk, eat, mingle, and hug, ALL AT THE SAME TIME). One cousin would check in with my kids at each family event by saying "My name is. . ., my children are . . .." Then later, she would say, "what is my name?"  To this day, my children know her and how she is connected to us better than anyone else in the family.

This naming of names is important in all three classes. And this may surprise you: it is most important in the Tracks class because, sorry to have to share this with you, adults become superfluous as children's social skills gel. Their peers are simply more interesting (yippee!). Still, we have been invited to the party, so we must actively weave ourselves back into the fabric of the classroom.

Help the children learn each other's names as well.  Reinforce the children's names as you watch them interact by inserting their names into your observations, e.g. "Julian is in the sandpit with Molly and they both have trucks."  Introduce the children to each other, by directing a child's attention to what another peer is doing, for example "Sam, Sadie is cooking a pancake, do you want one?"

You may have noticed that the teachers will remind the children to use a peer's name "in the sentence" or "in the question." This is a very important action to take in building conflict resolution skills and for enriched language development. The children may know each other's names, but we want to move towards a deeper meaning of self and to build empathy.

* Did you know that a word or name must be uttered by the child at least three times to become part of a child's retrievable vocabulary?  Rumplestiltskin, Rumplestiltskin, Rumplestiltskin

More info: http://speech-language-therapy.com/devel1.htm