Are Kindergartners Babies or Big Kids?

kinderbabiesThe Question:

Why does everyone call kindergartners “babies”? I tell mine all the time that they are big kids, I expect big things out of them. I don’t want baby behavior. I recognize they are young and the youngest in the school, but I don’t want them acting like babies, so I don’t refer to them as babies.

The Answers:

I agree with you! I’ll hear another teacher say “they are just little kids” and, as you said, we are the youngest, but I want them to feel that they can accomplish things and they aren’t babies!!!

I don’t call my kids babies in front of them but I do refer to them as babies to parents and administrators to put things into perspective sometimes…. Often people need to be reminded that we are asking 5 year olds to do things that are so developmentally inappropriate. By referring to the kids as babies it helps put things in perspective when adults start demanding too much of these young kids.

I tell them the same thing. I understand that they look like babies and are soooo teeeny compared to everyone else. When other teachers or my principal calls them babies, I tell them we have to prove that we aren’t babies and show them! They eat it up and try extra hard!


Equally upsetting to me is all the “they are so cute” comments. Baby is one of the biggest insults to them. And it seems as though the more they are called cute, the less “cute” they behave. They may be little, but they are fierce!


I don’t use that in a way to mean they are little, but more as a term of endearment. I become a mother hen with my kinder babies each year.


I will often say things like “When we were babies and just learning to color, we might have scribbled, but now we are big kids who can be in charge of our tools”….that is the only way they are referred to as once being babies.

They are not babies and the administration expects them to show what they know. They will be tested constantly and put through many things that are not developmentally appropriate. People say “Oh how sweet, you teach kindergarten.”

It is not sweet, it is hard. It is hard on me to try and cram down skills they are not ready for. If they do not master the skills it reflects on the teacher. Very frustrated with the education system.


They’re certainly not babies, but they’re my babies.

I hate when other grade teachers say “I don’t want to see that behavior, that’s what kindergarteners do.”

I always told my kindergartners that going to school was their “job.” Just like mom and dad have to go to work every day, now they go to work every day.



They are big boys and girls! There are no babies here!


I don’t call my kids babies.


It makes me really frustrated when they expect huge results from kindergarten but then treat them as babies. Don’t call them babies. Don’t stop my line in the hallway to hug and high five them all. Don’t refer to them as “Kinders” (I hate that term). Don’t let them get away with bad behavior because they are cute. Don’t assume they can’t do simple tasks like clean up a mess or zip their coat. I make sure my administration/other teachers understand what is developmentally appropriate, but at the same time I make sure they understand that kindergarten students are extremely capable people.


They were just babies and face it, some having a hard time not being number one and helpless! Others not so much–which makes it so tricky!


Kinders + babies= kindies….that’s what I’ve called them for years, purely out of affection and endearment….and now that I think about it–ONLY when I speak about them, not to them.


It’s a term of endearment: .kinderkidlets, ducklings, sweet peas, chickadees. My student love the pet names I give them. And they love it when my big grown-up sons visit my classroom and I call them my babies. It has nothing to do with behavior expectations nor is it condescending with spoken in a loving tone.


Like anything else, so much depends on context. I have high expectations and I telegraph them in all that I do. Of course, I also tell them they are and always will be “my kids”.


I call them babies at the start of the year. Not as much to them but to other teachers. They grow so much!

I call them my babies to others when discussing them…never to them.

I also expect BIG things out of them…I guess it’s just easier to tell apart “my kids” from my own children at home.


I teach 4/5 and I constantly remind them that they are halfway to being adults: that’s the goal, not babyhood.


I teach 3rd and tell mine not to run over the babies when we cross in the hall. At the same time I praise the kinders for having a straight line with bubbles and duck tails and tell them that they are setting a wonderful example for the 3rd graders. They stop me all the time to show me a library book or something they have posted on the wall. I also call my 3rd graders babies when talking to parents/administration about developmentally inappropriate tasks.


My pet peeve is when I get a guest teacher, they say – “Oh Kindergarten! I get to play all day.” They are shocked when it is academic all day. I warn the guest teacher to put his/her game face on or you will be taken over by 24 little 5-year olds.

Why does everyone take offense to everything? I think that’s the real question here.


I agree 100%! Even though I love my kindergartners dearly, I NEVER call them babies (to their face, or when referring to them). Sometimes I think our biggest problem in primary education is that we teachers are trying to help our students grow up, while their parents and grandparents are trying to keep them babies. It drives me crazy when parents carry their children’s backpacks, or worse yet, pick them up from school and actually pick them up and carry them to the car! Excuse me, he/she has been walking just fine all day!
100% true but sometimes the parents are the ones who have a hard time meeting go. Example: I’m at car pool duty & a Kindergarten mom refused to move all the way to the beginning of the line because her “it’s too far for him to walk that far.” Huh? Really!
Didn’t say that out loud but no wonder some students can’t do anything for themselves. Parents do it for them.
I teach Pre-K and call them “kiddos” or “friends.”
At our school they are the oldest! Now we have to convince some of our administrators that they are not babies and deserve the same amount of resources as the rest of the district!
I love my Kindies and expect great things from them and for them during their year! But yes, they are still my babies as well as my own 30 year old baby -who is a Doctor!
Sorry it’s just a term of endearment from some of us.
Because they are babies! Precious, precious babies who have been on the earth for 5 years! And expected to do oh so much! Love them and instill the gift of learning through play please. And please remember–they are babies.

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