Preschool Prep Week 20: Manners

I feel that it is never to early to start teaching proper etiquette and manners. If anything, the earlier it's taught, the earlier it becomes habit, and will be second nature to them as they grow. By now the children should be masters of a few rules: saying please and thank you, staying in their chairs while eating, and greeting hello and goodbye.

By age 3-4 they can be taught a further etiquette.  Following simple table etiquette. By the time she turns 3, your child should be able to eat with utensils. Now is also the time to start enforcing basics: Use your napkin (not your sleeve!), chew with your mouth closed, don't talk with your mouth full, sit up straight, and ask to be excused when you're finished. Focus on one or two behaviors at a time so your child doesn't get overwhelmed, and try to make it fun.

Expanding his polite vocabulary. Work with your child to say "may I please." Give him a do-over when he forgets, so he has a chance to correct himself. Also introduce the all-important "excuse me." He should say it after burping or passing gas, as well as when he needs your attention. When he goes to a play date make sure he knows to thank his host for having him, and to thank friends for coming when they visit your house.

Being kind. This means taking turns, not grabbing, and saying she's sorry if she hurts someone. When a conflict arises, avoid vague reminders like "Be nice." Instead, talk to your child about what to do, so she'll eventually have the words to work things out on her own: "It looks like Ruby isn't done with that doll. Let's talk to Ruby. Ruby, when you're done with the toy, can Ava have a turn?" If your kid needs to apologize, ask her to say what she's sorry for, and talk about what she can do to help -- whether it's giving back a toy or getting her friend a play bandage. Source This site is great and gives additional etiquette to follow for older ages. 

Practice setting the table properly. 
Have enough "place settings" for each child. Either leave a diagram at each seat or have one on display for children to reference. Have each child practice a few times with the picture and then without. 

Get out toys or treats and practice "having enough", "not having enough", and sharing. What happens if you go to a play date and you want to bring candy, but don't have enough for your friends? Role play possible solutions. Is it something we can share? Should we leave it at home? Count number of friends attending (could even pretend with stuff animals etc. ) and could how many toys/treats the child has. 

 Experiment out in public. This would be great to do at the end of the week. Go to a restaurant, and practice using appropriate level of talking, and staying in our seat. Asking a waiter for something using please and thank you. Leave your napkin on your seat if you need to leave the table. Observe others in the restaurant and discuss at home how others act in public. Do we criticize? Do we point a finger? This is a great time to teach if we worry about ourselves, or others. 

Teach the difference between tattling, and helping. It's helpful to know the difference. Tattling gets someone INTO trouble, and helping gets someone OUT of trouble. 

Great time to start using utensils at snack time. Use something that is wet like Mandarin oranges or sticky like monkey bread to remind them with touch that it would be better to use a fork or spoon. 

Monkey bread recipe:
Picture of Monkey and Gorilla Bread Recipe

Monkey Bread (recipe may be doubled depending on the bundt pan):
Flour, for pan
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
30 buttermilk canned refrigerator biscuits
1 stick butter, plus more for pan
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts
Butter and flour a bundt pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine sugar and cinnamon. Cut refrigerator biscuits in half and toss in cinnamon and sugar mixture. Melt the 1 stick of butter in a saucepan and add brown sugar and bring to a boil; then add nuts. Line the bundt pan with biscuits and pour butter mixture over them.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from the pan when it's still hot to avoid

Make dolls out of felt and match proper clothes with proper situations. you could have the name of a place at the top of a piece of paper or you could just call out a place and have the child dress the doll. Examples could include church, school, play time, the pool, library time, meetings with parents, the theater, restaurants, the beach, backyard, birthday parties, piano recitals, sledding, gardening etc. wearing proper attire is a lost art in my opinion. Let's bring it back. 

The Manners Song Source

tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

We say, "Thank you.”  We say, "Please."
We don't interrupt or tease.

We don't argue.  We don't fuss --

Listen when folks talk to us.

Share our toys and take our turn.

Manners are easy to learn.

Other Activities:
Practice napkin folding

Can You Teach My Alligator Manners?

Role Play Manners at Meal Time:
  • Where does my napkin go?
  • When do I use utensils?
  • How do I go away from the table?
  • How do I get food passed to me?
  • How do I enter a conversation?
  • When do I start eating/What do I do when I'm finished?
Role Play a Phone Call: A conversation should go 2 directions
  • When to talk
  • When to listen
  • How long to talk
  • being interactive (using mmm hmm's etc)
  • How to handle interruptions
  • What not to discuss
Play "Mother/Father May I" one child is the "mother or father" and the children must ask permission to do an action. For example: child asks "Mother, May I please take 3 giant steps forward?" Mother responds with either "yes you may" or "no, you may not. Instead you may take 2 Giant steps forward" and so on, until one child has reached the parent. 

Practice writing the letter P

Interruption rule for a parent. We started doing this with our children and it really helped me not lose my train of thought, or get frustrated. It also teaches the child patience. When an adult is speaking to someone else, the child that needs the parent's attention simply puts their hand on the arm or shoulder of the parent. When the parent is ready, they can turn to the child and ask what they need. Sometimes even excuse me isn't polite if the child keeps asking or it isn't a natural break in a sentence or story. Teaching the child to patiently wait quietly shows them that they are important, but so are your manners. 

Try a kindness Jar. Every time you observe a child being kind to someone else, or using their manners add a cotton ball/stone to a jar and when it's filled you can give a reward of some kind. Being rude to another person can also remove cotton balls if you want to take it to that level. Sometimes just rewarding kindness is nice. Try to not increase the cotton balls to more than one per incident. When you start increasing (I'll give you 2 cotton balls this time!) The cotton balls start to hold little value and you'll have to start increasing them more and more. Pretty soon you're adding 5 cotton balls at a time and the jar gets filled before the habits are in place. 


Help with teaching manners.


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