Make sure the teacher and others pronounce your child’s name correctly.


Your kids may recently have returned to school or are about to go back after Labor Day weekend. It is an exciting time of year! It is time to meet old friends and make new ones.

As a child, I eagerly awaited the new school year, but also dreaded it because I never knew how the teacher was going to pronounce my name. I did not have a common name and it was usually never pronounced correctly. I felt as if my name drew unwanted attention to myself as I tried to coach the teacher how to pronounce my name.

I hated having an uncommon name, but now as an adult I actually appreciate it. I can’t say my name is pronounced correctly today, but I decided how I wanted it pronounced. I use the following mnemonic: “My name is Birgitta… Birgitta like in the Sound of Music or you can think of my name as rhyming with Chiquita.” People seem to get a kick out of it when I say that and they always seem to remember my name.

My daughters have common first names and do not have an issue having their names mispronounced. I always tell my daughters, however, they need to correct the teacher if their last name is pronounced incorrectly. If you don’t correct it now, your name will continue to be mispronounced. Speaking from experience, it gets more difficult to correct the pronunciation of your name when people are used to saying it a certain way. It can be intimidating as a child to correct an adult, but my daughters realize the importance of it. At back to school night, I also give the teacher an easy way to remember the pronunciation of our last name: Sethi. I will say, “Think of it as drinking a cup of tea …Sethi pronounced “Say – Tea”. That seems to work.

I think everyone would agree they want their name to be pronounced correctly. If someone has an uncommon name, make that extra effort to learn how to pronounce it. It will be appreciated.