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. Sunita Padda, the well-mannered mother behind TableSmarts outlines five areas where manners matter.
Five areas where manners matter
During the summer many routines are overshadowed by lazy evenings on a patio, or cooling off in the pool for most of the day. I recommend parents create (and instill) a back-to-school bedtime routine a week before school starts. That way if you have some “off” days during the transition, it won’t affect your child’s ability to get to school on time. Our family recently invested in the Gro Clock (and book), which has taught my child that if we don’t go to sleep when we are supposed to, it will affect our mood and ability to interact the following day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In our home, we have implemented fun meal themes such as “Waffle Wednesdays” for breakfast and “Pizza Fridays” for dinner.” Whipping up waffles with your kids can be the time you spend chatting about your upcoming day and what you hope to achieve. Meanwhile, if we can’t make every dinner an entire-family meal, we know that Fridays are reserved for everyone to sit together. You can do this with activities such as weekly family meetings, or games night with the kids. If you’re looking for in-depth conversation starters that not only help your family get to know each other better but also develop confidence in your child to have appropriate conversations about world events, I recommend TableSmarts’ TableTalk cards.
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.
Sunita Padda is a masters-level B.C.-Certified teacher and the founder of TableSmarts.