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Good Manners Matter

Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.

–Margaret Walker

As parents and teachers we know the importance of helping children learn social skills so they are prepared to interact with others in positive ways. At the center of this interaction is what we call good manners. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the most impact such as, saying thank you or please. Sometimes it’s more complex skills such as how to use a fork and knife. Below is a small list of things that you can work on at home that we are reinforcing at school.

Teach Children to Greet Others:

  1. Say, “ Hello, Good morning, and Goodbye”
  2. Look the person in the eye when you greet them
  3. Shake their hand when meeting someone new
  4. Smile

We have students practice these skills during morning meeting and when visitors enter their classroom.

You can ask your child to do this each morning when you come to school. Have them greet Ms. Ramona at the front office and their teachers in the classroom. Have them say “goodbye” when they leave each day.

Teach kind language

  1. “Thank you” in response to any kindness.
  2. “Your welcome” when anyone thanks you.
  3. “Excuse me” if you need to get by or if you didn’t hear what was being said.
  4. Teach children to look the person and speak clearly when using these kid words or phrases

The best way to teach this is to model the behavior yourself, but don’t stop there; remind children each time it would be polite to make one of these comments. Try to avoid saying these phrases for your child unless they are very young. Eventually, this type of language will become automatic.

We model this polite language at school and reinforce it every time we pass out snack or each time we ask a student to pick something up we will make sure to say, “please” and then “thank you.”

Teach table manners

  1. Use polite language such as please and thank you or no thank you
  2. Use utensils when foods require it
  3. Use a napkin to wipe your hands and mouth
  4. Clean up your area

We model these behaviors at school and reinforce it at lunch and snack time. You can do this at home as well.

Teach children how to answer the phone (when age appropriate)

Have your child rehearse the greeting you choose at your home. At school we have children answer the classroom phone:

  1. Hello, this is the (child’s grade) classroom, (child’s first name) speaking.

Example: Hello, this is the 2nd grade classroom. Sally speaking.

Teach children to wait their turn

  1. Practice taking turns talking around the dinner table
  2. Let them know that you want to hear what they have to say but that you also want to hear what the other people at the table have to say as well.

For children, waiting to speak can be very difficult. When a child has a thought, they want to express it immediately regardless of what is happening around them or whom they are interrupting. At school children learn to raise their hand during question and answer time but other times when they’re working in groups they need to learn to take turns talking.

Learning good manners is an ongoing process

Learning manners will take time. Remember to praise children often when they remember to use good manners. When they don’t, point out what they should do or say in an encouraging way. Continue teaching them by modeling yourself. Using manners is something we do daily, so there is plenty of time to work on improving them. Eventually, being polite will become a habit and your children will become more confident in social situations.



Joan Sousae

Principal Merryhill School-San Jose


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