Recently, I had the opportunity to teach a manners program for her students. Leah is a special education teacher and her focus is on children with autism. She also has a blog, Teacher Talk, where she writes about her experiences.
When I was visiting your classroom preparing for the manners program, I noticed several boxes containing materials. My eyes immediately went to the box on life skills. Tell us about that box!
In our life skill box, I have a lot of resources that help teach students skills they need for life such as direction following, manners, greetings, and how to hold a conversation. The box contains activities and worksheets that help students learn and practice these skills.
My favorite life skills/manners activity to teach is how to greet a person properly. Proper greetings change depending on age, location, and familiarity of the person. I love teaching different greetings during morning meeting since first impressions matter. We also practice saying hello and goodbye when entering and exiting the classroom. In addition, we always reinforce and expect our students to say please and thank you.
My students love to participate in group projects where collaboration is needed to complete an end product. My students wrote and produced a video about Mozambique that shared how some students could not go to school since they could not afford a $10 uniform. My students loved practicing their lines and recording the video. In addition, my students have enjoyed morning meetings where they greet their classmates and their teachers, participate in a group activity, and then ask their classmates questions about their weekend or how to solve a math problem.
4. Of these activities, which ones do you believe have the most impact?
I think each social skills activity has had a beneficial effect on my students. Morning meeting has been a great social activity that has helped produce a “family” feel in the classroom among peers and teachers. Producing the video helped my students think outside the classroom and use their social skills to focus on helping other people. Focusing on saying please and thank you has helped my students be a role model to other students in the lunch room and to special teachers.
Would You Like Lesson Plans to Teach Manners in Your Classroom?
Good Manners Set the Stage for Future Success
As an educator, you know how important social skills are for a child’s success. Children who are polite, well spoken, and attentive to others find it easier to get along with their peers and make a positive impression on the adults in their lives. As a result, more opportunities come their way, laying the foundation for future success in life. Yet too many children are not being taught proper manners or other valuable social skills at home. Which means it’s up to us as educators to equip them with these important life tools – and help them grow up to be responsible, caring, successful global citizens.
Now you can help students improve their behavior in as little as 10 minutes a day… a week… or month.
Manners To Go™ is taught in public, private and charter schools around the world. The New York Times, Parents Magazine and Fox News have all featured Manners To Go and the many benefits of teaching social skills to children.
Whether you are an educator who wants to teach it in the classroom or someone who is looking to become trained and certified, we provide all the solutions.
It’s never too early to teach children good manners. Elementary school is actually the perfect time to start teaching social skills. Adding etiquette for kids to your curriculum will help your students develop into mature and respectful adults.
Social skills impact us for our entire lives. That’s why starting off with strong etiquette for kids is important. But why does it matter?
Why Is Etiquette for Kids Important?
Children are constantly learning and making connections. Childhood is a critical time to teach kids the skills they will need for the rest of their lives.
That doesn’t just mean reading, writing, and arithmetic!
Adding etiquette for kids into your classroom teaches your students skills that will help them on every step of their journey.
Those benefits will show up in your classroom, too! Well-mannered children are easier to teach and will have an easier time navigating social situations in the future.
We need social skills, like etiquette, to effectively navigate life.
Those skills let us form genuine human connections. Children, like adults, want to connect. They want to make friends and bring joy to the people around them. Learning manners gives them the skills to do that.
Good manners are all about self-respect. Teaching etiquette for kids is about teaching children to value themselves and recognize their effect on the people around them.
Areas of Etiquette For Kids to Teach to Elementary Students
Teaching etiquette for kids is easier than you think. Manners can be fun! In fact, you’re probably already encouraging children to use etiquette in your elementary school classroom.
I’m going to go over four specific areas you can focus on when teaching your elementary-aged kids. By starting with these easy areas (that you probably already cover!), you can shape the next generation.
These 4 areas are:
Learning how to be empathetic to others is essential for people of all ages. Teach your students how to think about the world outside of themselves. Children should learn that every individual lives a life as rich and emotional as their own.
This can be as easy as asking them to notice when another student is not smiling or is feeling unwell. Your students will begin to naturally attune themselves to the people around them. It’s a skill that will help them build stronger connections with others for the rest of their life.
Ask your students to tell you how they help other people in the classroom. What examples can they give of times they practiced empathy?
Everybody can use a little more kindness in their life. Kindness to others is a form of kindness to ourselves.
It’s also something that can be taught when demonstrating etiquette for kids.
You can encourage kindness in your students using these methods:
Have your students practice giving one another complements. They can be about anything! Maybe someone has a really cool lunchbox or a beautiful smile.
Actively include everyone in activities. Encourage your students to encourage their classmates.
Incorporate gratitude in the classroom. Give your students an opportunity to share something they are grateful for every day.
Self-respect is at the heart of etiquette for kids. Even as adults, we use good manners because of how it makes us feel inside.
Well-mannered people feel confident and respected. That sense of confidence and respect from others helps us to develop our sense of self-respect. Using good manners actually makes us feel good about ourselves.
Encouraging your students to use good manners will build their confidence. Having self-respect will improve children’s lives as they grow into mature, confident adults.
When we respect others, we reap the benefits just as much as the people around us!
A child who is respectful of others is more likely to have a wider social circle. Other students will treat them better because they are being treated better. It’s reciprocal.
A child who respects others and respects themselves is easy to be around. This helps children create and maintain healthy relationships for the rest of their lives.
Where to Focus on Etiquette for Kids In An Elementary School Setting
I told you teaching etiquette for kids is easy, and it is! Here are some actionable ways you can utilize a manners curriculum.
In The Classroom
The classroom environment is a great place to teach children some basic etiquette skills. They have the opportunity to practice engaging in conversation with both their peers and your staff.
You can also encourage them to show gratitude. Whether it’s to other students, teachers, or the principal, there are many opportunities to practice giving thanks. Learning to write a proper thank you note will go a long way as they grow up!
You can also teach your students to give proper greetings and farewells. Say good morning when the day starts and goodbye in the afternoon. Practice good manners by making eye contact and smiling, rather than calling out as they run through the door.
In the Cafeteria
The cafeteria is another great place to implement etiquette activities. There are so many teachable moments around the table!
You can go way beyond the basics, but don’t forget to work on those, too! Students should start by learning to place napkins in their laps and chew with their mouths closed. From there, you can level up slowly!
Some easy ways to model etiquette for kids in the cafeteria include:
Model good conversations with your students by asking them lots of questions about themselves.
Encourage students to say please and thank you.
Teach your students to make eye contact when apologizing. They’ll pick up on it if you model it for them.
Encourage students to listen when others are talking and avoid interrupting.
Plan lunchtime activities that don’t include devices so that students have an opportunity to focus on one another and talk.
Elementary school is the perfect time to start teaching etiquette for kids. You have so many opportunities to encourage your students to be respectful of one another and themselves.
If you’re not sure where to start, give my manners curriculum a try! You’ll be able to share the joy of manners in a way that the children really respond to.
You may have seen Michele Borba, ED.D. on the Today Show giving advice on teaching character strengths to children.
I was lucky enough to see her speak at a school in Philadelphia. You can tell she is the EXPERT and one of the most passionate advocates for children and teens.
If you have not seen her, spend some time on You Tube to see and witness what I mean.
Thrivers: The Surprising Reason Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine
Dr. Borba says Thrivers are made not born.
Even before the pandemic, children were stressed, lonely and overwhelmed. According to Dr. Borba, we have focused so much on testing and being competitive, we have lost touch and not taught children how to be human.
When I read this….it caused a moment of pause. It is a profound statement and one I believe to be true.
Over the years as I have worked with parents, I often hear the comment “they will listen to you more than me”- meaning, when teaching manners, children listen to a third party. For some reason this is the way of the world.
Finding moments or dedicated time to teach manners in your classroom is actually very easy. Most likely you are using good social skills all day every day in the classroom (virtual or in-person).
Manners and Life Skills such as:
Eye contact: When using eye contact, point out what you are doing. As students use good eye contact, let them know you noticed.
Respect: Point out respectful behaviors as you see certain actions (helping others, expressing gratitude, holding the door, saying “good morning”)
Conversation skills: We have multiple conversations a day. Recognize students when they engage with each other. Conversation skills are becoming a lost art. This skill is the cornerstone of building friendships.
There has been a focus at the school level in many states to focus on the whole child.
Instills Confidence: MostChildren are social beings and enjoy eating together.When they know the basics…napkin in lap and using it, chew with their mouth closed, etc. they feel good about themselves.They are confident.They know what to do when eating with others.
Joy in Helping: Setting the table starts the ritual of eating together.When you allow children to take an active role, they feel useful. Taking out the plates, forks and napkins sets the tone for togetherness.This can be in the cafeteria at school, in the classroom or at home.
There is so much joy in helping out a parent or teacher. They can also take on a role at the end of the meal by clearing the table (how fun is that chore!).
Conversation Skills: I always tell teachers and parents, if you want your children to have good conversation skills, sit down together at meal time.Not only does sitting down together to eat teach table manners, this act also teaches everyone about talking to each other.
Ask questions.Learn what happened during the day.This is a simple step to take and adds so much value for life.