Several career moves ago, I had the privilege of teaching preschool. Three years spent with those young ones during their first school years. Our curriculum covered basic academics such as ABC’s, calendar time and writing their name. Free play in rotating centers was enjoyed, stories were plentiful, and we loved moving our muscles dancing to silly songs. One thing I added to the curriculum was teaching manners, such as please and thank you.
The use of the simple “please” and “thank you” was largely encouraged during snack time. I would walk around the tables, asking each student if they would like each snack item. Their responses were to be either “yes, please” or “no thank you”. Simple, direct and polite answers that would be expected of them throughout their lives. I prompted their responses at the beginning of the school year, but as time progressed they had to respond correctly on their own. If they did not, I patiently waited at their side until they realized their social faux pas and respond properly. Fortunately, most of the students caught on to the expectation quickly and snack did not generally drag on too long.
While such a snack ritual may seem Draconian to some, it was a great way to encourage a polite habit. There is nothing wrong with teaching manners to our children. We should expect them to be considerate when talking to others. In fact, in a world full of increasingly offended people, manners go a long way in making a positive impression. Teaching children the manners of please and thank you may have the added benefit of reminding adults to use them, too. The great thing about manners is learning them can start at a young age, using sign language. You do not have to wait until a child is in school (although manners should be part of a well-rounded education).
It was very sweet to see my preschoolers start using “please” and “thank you” throughout the school day, and not just when I taught them to. They were wonderful children, and my hope is that they retained that sense of politeness after their time with me. “Children who are taught manners at a young age, grow up to be kinder, gentler and more considerate of others than those who don’t”. Who wouldn’t want these qualities in their children…or fellow community members?
Teaching children these simple manners is something we should all expect. There is nothing bad or strict about expecting children to be polite and respectful. Our society could really benefit from expecting politeness out of everyone. All adults should be teaching young ones simple manners, and using them, too.
Also, please teach your children to chew with their mouths closed. It teaches consideration of others and awareness of self while keeping dining areas cleaner. Plus, people like me will be less likely to have their blood pressure rise and start twitching when encountering them in public…speaking from experience.