September is National Children’s Good Manners Month. Teaching manners is so much more than teaching a child when to use “Please” and “Thank you.” It’s a way to teach kindness, courtesy, thoughtfulness, and respect.
Manners not only change with time, they also vary from culture to culture. One example comes to mind regarding teachers. As recent as the 50s and early 60s, teachers were expected to be “Old Maids,” women who never married. Once married, they were expected to quit working. How times have changed!
Because of these differences, it’s even more important as a teacher to acknowledge and respect the various cultures and customs that may be present in our classrooms and school. At ELBS, we have children who have emigrated from Eastern Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Central America. A large number of our children are from the country Nepal. As such, our staff receives training to help them prepare for a diverse classroom.
Of course, teaching manners doesn’t just happen at school. One of the best places to begin teaching your child good manners is at the dinner table. You can teach your child to put the napkin in their lap, keep elbows off the table, and chew with his or her mouth closed. These are all behaviors that you can model for him or her. You can also use phrases like “Please pass the corn” and “Thank you” when you receive it.
Another fun way to discuss manners is to make a game out of it. Make two piles of “flashcards,” one pile of “good” manners such as “Say please” or “Cover nose when sneezing” and another pile of “bad” manners, such as “Grabbed a toy from someone” or “Didn’t cover nose when sneezing.” Go through the cards with your child or student and have them identify which are good and which are bad.
Ryan and I did all of the above, and I am proud of the manners he displays today. We talk daily about being “kind and merciful” to others. Ryan knows that by being polite, he is being kind and merciful.
Scholastic Books has some great books that reinforce good manners. Check out the link below to look at some of the titles.
The National Education Association also has a ton of great resources for the classroom and at home:
Any other practices that have worked well for your family? Please share!