A teacher recently told a story about what happened when a student asked her for something. The teacher said, “What is the magic word?” The student looked at her with a perplexed expression and responded, “Abracadabra???” I’m sure you’ve all had similar experiences where children don’t even know about the two magic words. And the reality is, it’s not their fault. Many children are not taught manners at home and they often have parents who don’t model the best manners. There’s also the problem of children seeing movies and television shows where characters are not respectful of others. November might be just the right time for a little etiquette class!
Manners can open many doors for students throughout their lifetime. Teachers and other adults are certainly more inclined to respond to a child who is polite. Manners can also be important on a daily basis in the work place. Employers, friends, family…who isn’t impressed with someone who is thoughtful, polite, and respectful?
Teaching manners can be aligned to the Common Core Standard - Speaking and Listening. Communication, collaboration, cooperation and other Skills for the 21st Century encourage positive social skills. Impulse control and self-regulation (the Executive Function) can also be enhanced with a unit on manners. Knowing how to act and what to do in various situations can improve a students’ self-confidence and make others feel better as well.
Any child can learn manners, but it takes practice and time. First, talk about why manners are important. How do you feel if someone pushes you or grabs something from you? How do you feel if someone says, “Please” or shares with you? Good manners mean being kind to your classmates, people in your family, and everyone you meet.
Point out acts of kindness and good manners when you see them. When a child makes a mistake, use that as a “teachable moment” to discuss what they should have done. Your actions speak louder than words, so make a habit of modeling good manners for your students.
Brainstorm examples of good manners and bad manners. Use a T-chart on the board to categorize different behaviors.