Children's names reflect their gender, culture, religion, language, and family history. Use of students' personal names has the power to positively affirm identity and signal belonging within the classroom and school community. However, naming practices also have the power to exclude, stereotype, or disadvantage students. For many students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, their names can be a source of cultural conflict and a watershed for issues of identity and belonging within the school setting. Through multicultural explorations of students' names, educators can affirm students' cultures and identities, and draw upon these as resources to support learning and development from early childhood through the adolescent years. The purpose of this article is to (a) discuss the importance of a person's name to cultural identity, (b) describe strategies to build multicultural communities in K-8 classrooms through exploration of students' names, and (c) suggest multicultural children's literature and curricular activities to teach about the importance of personal names, and develop cross-cultural understandings.
Teaching Methods and Strategies
Early Childhood Education