Back to School: Why Manners Matter - Even at school

Maybe etiquette is the last thing on your mind as school approaches, but did you know that etiquette is really about making others feel comfortable, respected and valued. Now that’s something we can all get behind. And etiquette matters in all arenas of life including school.

Five areas where manners matter:

1) Respecting Time:

Respecting other people’s time is a skill that should be taught at an early age as it can be a very difficult habit to break later on in life; I’m sure we all have friends who are notorious for being late! This is an important social skill because it reflects the level of respect you have for the person waiting on the other end. If your child is too young to read a clock, you could introduce a timer to help them get ready in the mornings. Alternatively, you could let them know when there is 10 min left, and 5 min. and so on.

2) Being inclusive:

The first day of school often brings new faces to the classroom with many families moving over the summer months. Remind your child what it felt like when they were the new student, or what it might feel like to have left all of your friends and to be in a new classroom with unfamiliar faces. Discussing these emotions are an important part of building empathy both in and outside of school. These skills will be appreciated by everyone who meets your child, and will reflect on the values you instill in your home. Practicing some go-to phrases such as “tell us about your old school” or “come and play with us” can make a world of a difference to a new student.

3) Respecting the rules of the classroom:

Ask your child what the rules of school and classroom are. In our Dining + Social Etiquette class we spend a large amount of our session discussed the “why” behind social rules. Children are far more likely to retain, and implement, a rule if they understand its impact. If your child lists one of the rules as no running in the classroom, you could ask why that’s an important and safe rule.

4) Table Manners:

The thought of fitting after school activities, homework, cooking dinner, baths, and a bedtime routine into a few short hours before the evening is over seems daunting. Which is why the thought of a regular sit-down family dinner each evening is close to impossible for families. Although I stress the importance of sit down meals as a way to connect with every member of your family, discuss your days, and solidify family bonds, it doesn’t always have to look a certain way.

5) Social media and bullying:

Depending on the age of your child, social media use will most likely play a big part of the social interaction with their peers. It’s important to remind students that what is put on, or sent through, the Internet can be copied and saved. Depending on the age and maturity level of your child, you can have an open discussion of cases in the news where children have been bullied over social media. Discuss where your child can turn to for help if they ever become a victim of any type of bullying. Making them aware of all of their sources of support, both inside and outside of school, can give students more confidence to select a source they feel most comfortable with based on their specific situation.