I am one of ten children, though none of us are children any more. The youngest has turned 50, and the oldest is nearing 70 (but don’t tell her that).
My mother sometimes had difficulty retrieving the correct name and often went through a list before hitting on the child she wanted. I know what it’s like. Sometimes it is difficult enough when there are only two or three to choose from! Maybe you’ve experienced it too. There’s probably a name for this phenomenon, but if there is, I’m not aware of it.
One day, when wanting to give me a direction, she rattled off a few names, but not mine. Finally, exasperated, she said, “Well, you know who you are.” It has become a family joke. It’s mostly true that I do know who I am. However, sometimes I’m not so sure! I must say that Mum had a wonderful memory until the day she passed just a few weeks before her 91st birthday.
The ability to name things is important and a young child’s vocabulary often begins with the names of people and objects in the environment; for example, Mum, Dad, dog, car, cookie, juice.
I read once that children don’t really become aware of an object until they are able to apply a name to it. This doesn’t mean they must be able to say the name, just recognise it by name. Unfortunately I don’t remember the source and was unable to verify it with a Google search; but there is no denying that a well-developed vocabulary is a definite advantage to learning.
Children also quickly learn to recognise their own names. Choosing names for children can be a difficult process for parents, with much to consider; for example:
- The name’s meaning
- Whether anyone else in the family has the name
- How it is spelled
- What the initials will be
- How the first and last names sound together
Teachers always have the extra burden of being influenced by the names of children they have taught.
Although this blog simply bears my name, choosing a name for my website was a more involved process. Years ago, I ran a home business called Create-a-Way. I chose the name as I thought it expressed the purpose of my business perfectly: children were encouraged to be creative, and it created a way for me to work with children in the way I wanted. I hoped to reuse the name for my website. Unfortunately, the domain names were not available, and I had to think even more creatively.
I eventually settled on the name readilearn as I love reading, and I love learning, and the ‘i’ in the centre puts the focus on the individual learner. I wanted the name of my website to show the importance of reading and learning to an individual’s growth and empowerment. However, when I say the name, I pronounce it “ready learn”. This refers to an individual’s innate readiness to learn, as well as to the resources which are ready for teachers to use in their support of learners.
One of the most important things for a teacher is to get to know the children. I used to pride myself on knowing the children’s names before morning tea on the first day. Of course, I had many strategies in place to help me with that. I have written about some of these strategies before, and there are readilearn resources to support teachers with that as well. In fact, writing this post has stimulated ideas for new resources to create, including resources that help children get to know each other. (Thanks, Charli!)
I have always found it fun to notice when people’s names are a good match for their profession; for example, Matt Dry the weather forecaster.
When Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) explore the importance of a name within a story, and reminded us of the classic Abbott and Costello Who’s on First, I decided I’d try a bit of fun with names as well. I hope it works.
The community hall was abuzz. Everyone was outtalking the other, except Ms Penn who quietly recorded everything.
“I’m pretty cut up about it,” complained Mr Carver.
“He fired me,” moaned Mr Burns.
“Said I was just loafing around,” grumbled Mr Leaven.
“Could’ve floored me,” griped Mr Lay.
“He was fishing for something,” remarked Ms Salmon.
“Said he’d top me,” sprouted Ms Bean.
“Another nail in his coffin,” whined Mr Chips.
Ms Chalk took the stand. “It’s not just black or white. He knows why you all avoid him like, well … Give him a chance. He’s not his name.”
Did you recognise them all: the journalist, the butcher, the fireman, the baker, the tiler, the fishmonger, the greengrocer, the carpenter, the teacher; and, of course, the one they’re all talking about: the new doctor.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.