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Back to School Name Report: The Straight-A Generation

Kindergarten is the front line of the naming revolution. By the time a generation of names hits college, we've had time to get used to them -- Alexis and Cameron, your dorms await. But the 5- and 6-year-olds starting kindergarten in the coming weeks carry names as new as a freshly sharpened number-two pencil. What can America's kindergarten teachers expect? Think straight A's.

But "A" is more than just a perfect score. It's also the sound that floods the name list for the year 2004, when today's kindergartners were born. Just look at the blockbuster hit Aiden. It wasn't a top-1000 name when the college freshmen were born, but the kindergarten class boasts 34 different Aiden rhymes among the top 1000 boys' names. Names like Braedon, Jaydin, Haiden, Kadin and Aydan keep rising, so the kindergartners are a sign of more straight A's to come.

Girls get in on the "A" fun, too. Thirty-five of the kindergarten girls' top 1000 start with the "Kay" sound. That includes names like Kayleigh, Kaelyn and Kaydence, and it just scratches the surface. Flocks of Baylies, Taylors, Haileys and Jaylins are close behind. New A-filled inventions and creative spellings abound.

Are modern parents trying to send subconscious messages to their babies' teachers?

"You are getting veeeeeery sleepy. You will give my little Raylie or Graydon an 'A' in coloring between the lines." Probably not. The A-sound is simply the fresh style of the moment, just as Kris-something was in the '70s and Something-ld was in the '30s (Donald, Ronald, Gerald).

What is different about this generation of names is that they're not balanced out by the old standards. Names like Margaret and Catherine, Robert and Edward used to be the steady, rhyme-free stream into which new trends trickled.

Today, those standards aren't standard anymore. Even the classics that parents do choose, like Jacob, fit the sound of the times. That leaves this generation with more of a trademark sound than any before it. So stock up on "A" stickers, kindergarten teachers. You'll need them.


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September 17, 2009 6:51 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Nearly half of my daughter's kindergarten class has names starting with the letter A.

September 21, 2009 12:56 PM
By HappyMom (not verified)

When my daughter Frances was born 19 months ago, the babies on either side of us in the hospital were both named Aiden. One was a boy, one was a girl. And I think there were two girls named Ava. Big downside to trendy names: Those poor kids will forever be known in school by their first names and last initials, e.g., Aiden T. and Aiden F. In my eldest girl's third grade class, there is Isabella F., Isabella R. and Isabella T. And there are only 25 children!

September 23, 2009 8:29 AM
By Zoe (not verified)

Happymom- Frances is beautiful and so refreshing to hear!

September 23, 2009 8:01 PM
By Mom to 3 (not verified)

My child just started kindergarten. She's got 2 Ben's and 2 Emily's. She is the only Marisol though! The funny thing is we almost named her Amelia. She has that for her middle name. I'm glad because Amelia is a little too close to Emily for distinction.

September 24, 2009 5:02 PM
By Elizabeth (not verified)

Interesting because my husband and I are drawn to A names but tend to like the less popular names. We already have Adele Linnea age 2 and are now trying to find a name for her little brother, due in the spring. We both have always liked the name Anson. Any thoughts? What would be a good middle name? (Our last name is two syllables and starts with A)

October 6, 2009 12:49 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I feel bad for all teachers and other public employees who will have to verify the spelling of EVERY name, evey time. "Is that Colin with two LL's? One L? A Y?"

October 12, 2009 4:05 PM
By yakira (not verified)

i love the names aiden and isabella but i agree,way too many and too many different ways to spell.

October 14, 2009 4:41 PM
By que (not verified)

My 2 year old is in a class where 6 of her 11 classmates have names starting with A. I thought it was just a weird coincidence but when I started my 2nd child in daycare, 6 of the 7 other babies in her nursery class had A names. Her teachers actually commented that they were glad there were 2 babies without A names.

January 28, 2010 11:00 PM
By Camille (not verified)

Mom to 3: Marisol is such a beautiful name! (: What was you inspiration?

January 31, 2010 10:51 PM
By Kelly (not verified)

Elizabeth: Have you thought about Ancil? It's a family name for a good friend (he was named for his grandfather, one of his boys is named Ancil)

April 7, 2010 8:08 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Marisol is a somewhat common name in Latinamerica, well, I'm not sure where it ranks, but in middle school there were two marisols, however, my generation consisted on four 30-people groups, so two marisols out of 120 is not that much....

Mari comes from Maria and Sol is spanish for sun....

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