Thursday, August 4, 2011

Manners at school

Can you believe school is right around the corner? In fact, some schools in our area have already started. If you haven’t already, it’s time to celebrate the end of summer vacation in grand fashion—one last trip to the pool, beach, lake, or lawn sprinkler may be in order—and get ready for school.

And of course, it’s an excellent time to remind the children in your life of good manners.

“As parents and students prepare for the start of another school year, teaching children everyday etiquette can be the greatest gift that we can give kids,” says Hilary Brennan, an ELI-trained and certified etiquette consultant in Morristown, NJ. “A nervous buzz of excitement and apprehension can be felt in the hallways those first weeks of school as children venture off in September.”

(Or, if you live here, August!)

Here are our tips for making a smooth transition from summer to school with good manners:

Model good behavior. Parents, if you are accompanying your children to an open house of the first day of school, remember to lead by your example. Children are like thermometers—if you are nervous, they will be too. And if you are confident and friendly, they’ll mirror that.

Watch the clock. If you want to make a good impression, be on time. This holds true for everyone, so why not start encouraging this behavior with children? Teachers appreciate it, the day runs smoother, and it makes those rare days when you are inescapably late less offensive.

Start the welcome wagon. What if your child is a seasoned, well-behaved student who knows the ropes? Encourage him or her to welcome new students with a solid introduction (don’t forget to smile and make eye contact) and an offer to help in any way. This kind of life skill translates to future success: Today’s friendly student leader is tomorrow’s company vice president.

Be kind. Adults know that it’s the little things that can turn a day around for the better, and children can start this approach now by opening doors for others (especially if they are loaded down with piles of books or otherwise having trouble), helping others pick up dropped items...and not joining in on teasing, name-calling, or other forms of bullying.

“From the moment they step onto their bus, well before learning begins, students will need essential skills to help navigate through their day—making eye contact, using a confident leadership voice, and maintaining good posture,” says Brennan. “In daily life, social skills affect everything you do and makes navigating everyday life easier. These skills need to be practiced, take time to develop and need to be cultivated. The transition to the classroom, field or stage can be smoother when kids are prepared, aware and confident in any circumstance.”

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