"PLEASE!! Don’t choose popular baby names" - teacher begs all parents, and the reason why is as old as time

This might make parents think twice about name choices

school boys image next to list of baby names and scan pics
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Choosing a name for your child is one of the earliest responsibilities you'll have as a parent, and so many people will have opinions on your choice, even teachers.

Our names tell the world who we are, at a basic level, they could hint at our age, ethnicity, and religion. So it's understandable that parents may go down the route of the classic baby name rather than an unpopular baby name, or a cool baby name, or sidestepping even unusual baby names. A common name may help to steer clear of any cultural stereotypes or unjust discrimination.

Research from ScientificAmerican.com shows that people find familiar, easy-to-pronounce names to be likable and trustworthy. Founder of baby-naming site Baby Name Wizard, Laura Wattenberg says; "When you hear from a person with a name like Dave or Jen or Mike, you’re more likely to answer their email, more likely to swipe right on Tinder." When it comes to popularity, there's a tradeoff. A popular, classic name (unlike a popular French name) is certain to be well-liked and easy to spell and pronounce.

"And, that's a sacrifice few parents today are willing to make these days. We choose names that reflect our dreams, our values, our culture - and above all, our sense of style.” This may be the reason lists of popular baby names came about.

In October 2022 we reported that the hugely popular (it's been in the top spot for the last eight years) name Oliver was knocked off the top spot for boys' names. The news caused quite a stir among Goodto.com's Facebook followers, specifically a teacher who begged people, 'PLEASE don't give your child a popular name!'.

Teacher, Heather Barbour took to the comments section on the post (which you can see below) to ask parents to think again before choosing a popular baby name. The primary school teacher wrote; 'PLEASE don't give your child a popular name!! As a teacher when they hit school age it's a pain having six Olivers or Mias in one class.'

She went on to add: 'Even worse, if some have surnames that start with the same letter so instead of being able to mark their belongings with Oliver A or Oliver B etc, you have to write the full name.' 

Many others agreed and shared memories of having the same problem when they were growing up, with one commenter, Lynda saying; 'When I started school in the 50s there were five Lyndas, four Christines, and five Susans.' So it's not a modern phenomenon then.

The teacher went on to joke, 'And if it's a double barrel name like Jones-Smith the teacher really should be able to sue for RSI!!'

Duplicate names can disrupt learning

Secondary school teacher, Heather Smith agrees wholeheartedly. Speaking to Goodto.com, she tells us how duplicate names in one classroom can really disrupt education; "As a teacher, having two kids with the same name isn't annoying for me, though I do think there are definite ways [same names] can put children at a disadvantage in a classroom setting."

She goes on to explain how the children with the same names may be less likely to be randomly picked; "it's really because teachers are human, and if they need to remember a second name too, especially in a secondary setting where some teachers teach 17 classes of 35 children or more across a week, then they're less likely to call on a child if they have to remember to differentiate between them with a surname."

The Goodto view

Consumer editor at Goodto and mum-of-three Heidi Scrimgeour says; "I dislike the idea that we should name our children with their future teachers' convenience in mind. Names are forever and school is not - I'd definitely prioritise things like how the name will 'wear' into adulthood rather than how much of a pain it might be for teachers to deal with. Naming your baby is such a personal thing, as the mother of three unusually-named children, I can tell you that there's no guarantee that your highly original name won't have boomed in popularity by the time your tiny baby is ready for school. My daughter was the only person we'd ever heard of with her name when we chose it but now, in our tiny seaside village school, she's one of two with the same name..."

"And, where some teachers may use a 'random name generator' to pick children to answer questions, if the duplicate name comes up it may be the more talkative one who jumps to it, meaning the others miss out and don’t get as engaged or brought into the lesson."

The R.E. teacher goes on to say how it can also cause issues where 'well-behaved' pupils are interrupted when they constantly hear their name called out in lessons meant for another less well-behaved child. "This can really disrupt their learning because they automatically disengage from work when they hear their name, which sometimes can be a lot dependent on the behaviour."

If you landed on this one because you love baby names then check out our Christmas baby names - it includes Felix and Pax, and these amazing Italian baby names!  Once you've chosen a name, you can start checking out the best cot beds and pushchairs. We rigorously test all products we recommend with real parent input and hands-on trials, so you can trust our reviews for those top baby essentials.

Stephanie Lowe
Family Editor

Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodToKnow covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. Just keeping on top of school emails/fund raisers/non-uniform days/packed lunches is her second full time job.