Please and Thank You—Etiquette in the Classroom

Etiquette is just a fancy (and difficult to spell) word that essentially means “polite habits.” Some adults have good etiquette, but others aren’t quite as polite. Children, on the other hand, are like a fresh chalkboard–they have few habits, good or bad. As educators, parents, and caregivers, you are in a unique position to help the children in your care build polite habits that will serve them well as they advance in school.

It can be challenging to teach children why “please,” “thank you,” “may I?” and other respectful words are important, let alone teaching them the importance of sharing and helping others. If you find yourself in a bind, try these tricks to guide the children in your class or home and build a solid foundation of etiquette.

Praise is a great way to emphasize positive behavior. Even if you have to remind a child to say “please” or “thank you,” following up with a “good job!” is a simple way to encourage kids to use polite words. Make a chart to help kids keep track of their kind words and actions. Did one of your students help a classmate pick up some art supplies or share a coveted toy? Take a moment to praise him or her for being polite–they’ll remember how good it made them feel!

Make a list
Keep a list of common polite words and phrases in your classroom or activity area. As children learn to read, they can connect the written words to the action of saying them. Seeing signs with “remember to say please!” or “always say thank you!” will help reinforce the importance of polite language in your group.

A foundation of building any habit–good or bad–is repetition. Sometimes kids forget to say “please” or forget to share their toys. A gentle reminder (remember: encouragement!) will help imprint these habits and turn action into behavior.

Make it fun!
Never underestimate the power of a catchy song. The simple ditty below is sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Incorporate the song (or a similar one) into your daily routine. This goes hand-in-hand with repetition; as the song itself becomes habit, the lessons in it will also take root.

How do you teach manners in your classroom or home? Leave us a comment below, find us on Facebook, or send us a tweet @freefieldtrips.

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