Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A READERS ASKS What Should My Child Call His Teacher?

Dear Lily,
     my son just started junior kindergarten. Since he is the youngest of four that have gone to the same school, I am very familiar with most of the teachers there, including his teacher who has taught one of my other children as well. My son has heard me refer to his teacher by her first name and now has gotten into the habit of calling her by her first name too. I didn't think it was a big deal, I mean he is just a little kid but his teacher has brought it up a few times to me. She said that she wasn't comfortable with him calling her by her first name as opposed to Mrs.____ and that a couple of the other children have heard him and now call her by her first name as well. I haven't talked to my son about it because like I said, I didn't think it was a big deal but now I am not sure what to do. Is she being silly about this or am I the one in the wrong?


Dear Caryne,
     children are such lovely little sponges, aren't they? They pick up everything they see and hear from adults, especially their parents. While you didn't really do anything criminal with calling an acquaintance, like the teacher by her first name, if you choose to address her that way in public, it is your responsibility to clarify to your son the different expectation you should have of him. There should be a distinction of respect between a child and an adult, especially one who is an authority figure in your child's life, like his teacher. Allowing your children to address adults informally sets a confusing pattern for them, blurring the lines of respect and authority (a major issue these days) which they will take with them as they grow and mature from a little one into a not-so-little one.
Generally, so as not to confuse the young child who is already trying to adjust to the new routine of school, I suggest refraining from calling teachers by their first names. Since this pattern has been initially set, explain to your son that children do not call teachers by their first names and tell him why that is in a manner he will be able to grasp and understand. We, as parents and caregivers, must show our children what is appropriate social behaviour and as harmless as you might think it is, it is not acceptable for a child to call a teacher by their first name if the teacher does not appreciate it.

Yours Truly,