The Power of a Name

We are very intentional at Opal about building community within each classroom. In  Early K, one of the ways we begin is through learning each other's names. There is something about knowing someone's name and feeling comfortable using it, saying it aloud; there is power in that. Our meeting time in the morning is a time when we practice names through greeting one another every day. We greet in many ways, but often each child will have a chance to look at another child, say their name aloud and say good morning. Hearing one's name said aloud is acknowledgement that you are seen and welcomed to this place. We know you are here and we are glad. At the end of the day we sing everyone goodbye by name and their eyes light up as their name is sung. It is comforting notion to be known, to belong to a place.

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I love hearing the children begin to use one another's names on their own and experience the effect it has.

I witnessed this power the first week of school when we were out on Rocky Space. M was standing inside the branches of one of the low trees. She saw a friend running by. A was running full speed. M called out her name, loudly, two times in a row. As if a magic string of connection had caught her, A went from a full out run to a stop and turned around to look where the call had come from. "Come in to my house, come in to my house", M called. A went in and they were together.

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Just yesterday, as we hiked together to The Running Space, I heard first hand how important names were to one child. I was walking with V at the end of the group.

She said: I am learning all the names.

How does that feel?, I asked.

Good, she said. Then she added, and I'm getting getting used to them all too (I think she meant the children). L is my friend, I is my friend, S is my friend, and, and, I can't remember her name, oh, J is my friend. They are being my friends.

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