Teaching good manners to children is the responsibility of the parents. That being said, it is important to continue the concept of using good manners in preschool so that the children understand that manners are not only for the home. Parents can and should expect and demand good manners from their children, but preschool teachers should also encourage this. Not only is it good for children, it will make the classroom a happier and more effective environment for the children to learn in.
Learning to share, greeting others warmly and showing respect and consideration for others is a lesson that continues to develop and evolve throughout a person’s life. It is never too early to begin and even children who are yet to begin speaking and communicate by expressions and gestures can be taught what gestures are okay to use and what are not.
Encouraging Good Manners in the Classroom
The use of good manners in class is not something that can be achieved overnight. It takes time and patience, just like most other aspects of dealing with young children. There is a five step process that can help to make learning and using good manners simpler and more fun for the kids. Here’s how it can be done:
- Begin with a few basic words and phrases such as “please” “excuse me” and “thank you.” Make it a rule that these words should be used not only in student to teacher communication but also in the case of student to student. It may be the cause of a lot of giggling initially, but over time the kids will accept this as a normal part of speech. As time passes, increase the number of words to be used.
- Be both persistent and consistent in asking for and demonstrating good manners. This means keeping watch for when children slip up and correcting them. There will often be some resistance to the use of words and phrases that do not seem to come naturally and which may appear, to the young mind, to be unnecessary complications to communication. If the use of good manners is persisted with, it will become a part of their natural means of communications and expression.
- Be an example. Seeing the practical use of good manners is a more powerful teaching process than simply telling children about it. As teachers know, children like to follow examples and to pretend to be older than they are. If good manners are considered to be a more “grown up” thing to do, it will be more readily accepted.
- Use positive feedback to reinforce the importance of good manners. When a child is waiting quietly in line or is helping others to put toys away or other such “polite” acts, they should be told about how nicely they are behaving. Explain to them how they are making others feel good by their attitude and actions.
- Make the use of good manners in the class fun. A “good manners week” with rewards for those who display the best manners is something the kids will enjoy. Stars and special mentions each day for those who have behaved the best will reinforce the idea of good manners and politeness. A “no manners” period every day for a week or so will allow the kids to have some fun while showing them how much nicer it is to use good manners.
Inculcating manners and behavior into young children is part of a teacher’s responsibility, but more than this, once the concept is absorbed, the way the kids behave in class will make life much easier for the teacher and everyone else.