Manners within the Classroom are Vital (3 Clock Hours)

In today’s world, where it’s tough just to make it home on the highway without being cut off by another vehicle or holding the door open for a stranger at a store, not even to be acknowledged by them, the thought that a toddler could have more manners than an adult, seems unlikely.

Although unlikely it may seem, the truth is, if you lead by example, provide positive reinforcement, teach the children in your care basic manners and when to use them, you may very well end up with a classroom full of children with more manners than any office building full of adults!

Although a small toddler may not fully understand or appreciate the value of using manners, he will surely appreciate the praise and smiles he gets as a result of using them. Teaching toddlers to use good manners can take time and a lot of patience, but ism important for several reasons. Those reasons are:

●Valuable social skills – By teaching a child to use manners, and when it’s

appropriate to use them, you are also helping them to grow and develop social skills.

●Building self-esteem – Giving a child the tools they need to be successful in social situations helps to build self-worth and self-esteem.

●Speech development – Working with small children, teaching them through repetition, what words to say, and when to say them, will help them build a strong vocabulary. Social skills, self-esteem, and speech development are three crucial areas of development for young children. As a childcare provider/preschool teacher, you can use manners as a teaching tool to help you in these areas. It is important to be realistic in your expectations. Very young children do not have the ability to focus for too long. Their attention spans are quite small, which will limit the amount of time you can spend instructing them on any one topic. It will also affect how much of your instruction they will comprehend. Remember, this is true for anything that you are trying to teach them at this age, but if you have patience, they will begin to catch on! Consistency is the most important element in teaching children at this age. Repetitive action is how young toddlers learn best.


Ways to teach toddler’s manners:

●Teach by example - This is an excellent way to teach a child good manners. Use “please and thank-you” as a staple in your classroom vocabulary. The children you care for learn from your actions, in addition to the things you put in your curriculum to teach them. Be a good example! Be courteous when dealing with others, when a child in your class gives you something, be sure to say THANK YOU!

●Through positive reinforcement – Children look for ways to hear you sing their praise, and providing a child with positive reinforcement is also a way for you to use your good manners. Positive reinforcement allows you the opportunity to lead by example.

●Set age appropriate expectations – Make certain your expectations of the children in your care are age appropriate. For example: It would be much easier for a two year old to simply say “please” than it would be for him to say “may I please have a drink of water”.

Make manners part of your curriculum – Throughout each school year, be sure to include manners as part of your standard curriculum. You can do this by providing fun crafts, small videos, songs, games, and any other activities that you can find that are related to manners.

●Expect respect – Requiring the children in your care to address the teachers and other staff at your childcare center by calling them Ms. or Mr., is a basic way to teach them to be respectful of adults. Being respectful to adults is a great way for children to use their manners.

●Teach name-calling – It is very respectful and using good manners to begin your statement to someone by saying their name. For example: “Mr. Johnson, may I please go to the restroom?”

●Acknowledge the child – Make the child feel important in your classroom, being sure that they all feel included. This helps to foster good social skills, and makes the child feel valued.

●Tattling – This also fits into the category of establishing good morals in a child. It is important that children learn as young as possible, that it is important for them to focus on themselves, and that tattling isn’t always appropriate. If a child is injured or hurt, or there seems to be an emergency, then “tattling” is more appropriate, and should be welcomed.

Sharing – This is an important lesson everyone must learn, but for small children, sharing is often a concept that is difficult to grasp. Try to have multiples of toys so that several children can play with the same things. Also, try to intervene early in a time of conflict between two children that are fighting over a toy. See if you can talk one of them into letting the other have the toy. Once the child agrees, offer him a special toy to play

with, as a reward for making such a good choice.


There are many areas in a child’s day where different types of manners can be taught. Table manners are an important category of manners to teach children at an early age. If you can teach and implement good behaviors early on, before a child has the opportunity to learn any differently, the child stands a better chance of continuing on the path that you have set them on. It is common as a child grows, for them to test their boundaries both verbally and behaviorally. Be sure to reprimand and redirect using

positive reinforcement in these situations, reminding the child of how they could use their manners and make better choices the next time.


Teaching table manners:

Table manners are not a trivial thing. Eating with one another is a great way for small children to continue to develop social skills, while also developing manners at mealtime.

Eating with care, paying attention to our food and how we eat it, as well as using restraint at meal time, is one of the attributes that makes us human and different from animals. It is not a pretty sight to sit across from someone that can’t close their mouth when they eat, or slurp and gulp when they drink. This can cause anyone to lose their appetite! Taking the time to help the children in your care learn table manners and practice using them is beneficial in several ways:


Children will gain pride – Children are proud of themselves in any area of development that they master. Teaching them to use manners at the table is not different. When you notice on of the children in your class using great manners at the table, praise them! This will help to inspire everyone to do the same thing.

●Helps develop social skills – Lunch time, recess, and centers, are important times in a toddlers day. They are times of open conversation, and offer the opportunity to build friendships with one another. If all but one child is using relatively good table manners, not making big messes, it will be the one child that stands out. This could cause staring or teasing by other children, making it tough for that child to fit in and socialize with classmates.


• Child may try new foods – A child that has learned to use table manners is more aware of what he or she is eating, and may be more inclined to try new foods.

When teaching manners in your childcare center whether it is classroom manners, or table manners, there are many things that can help you to implement these new ideas with the children in your care. The following is a list of some ideas for focusing on manners:

●Play “the manner game” – In the classroom, sit in a circle. You might go first. Turn to the person next to you and say something polite, or give them an example of using your manners.

●Role play – Have a tea party, pretend you are out to dinner, what if you were at the grocery store? Divide the children into small groups and let them role play a situation, thinking of different ways to use their manners.

●Videos – There are many videos from Barney to Veggie Tales that talk about being respectful and using manners. Have a special movie day with a special snack.

●Music – Look for children’s songs that talk about manners, or make up your own! Music is an excellent way to memorize and extremely effective for children.

●Illustrate – Have the children draw, paint, or color pictures of them using their manners. This is a creative way for children to express their ideas and interpretation of what manners are.

●Reward them – With something as small as a sticker, or even verbal praise. Catch them in the act of displaying great manners and let them know you are proud of them!

●Let them lead – Pick a child that is doing well using his/her manners, let

him/her share with the class, what manners are and how he/she uses them each day.

●Let them help- Let them take turns with tasks like passing out napkins,

cleaning the chalkboard, or wiping the table after snack time. They will feel pride in being chosen to help you, and helping one another is another example of using good manners in a social situation.

●Manner patrol – Find a fun badge or hat. Pick a different child each day and put them on manner patrol. Give them several tickets to give to their classmate when they notice him or her using great manners. You might

want to have him tell you who to give a ticket to, that way you can also keep up with who has gotten a ticket. This activity allows the children to learn to recognize in others, the manners they are displaying.

• Manner chart – You can put together a chart that has each child’s name on it. Whenever you catch one of then using good manners, you place a sticker next to his or her name. After they reach a certain number of stickers, they are rewarded with some sort of small, age appropriate prize. It is a good idea to carry stickers in your pocket, or keep them attached to the chart with a clip so that you have them in the moment you need them.


Remember that the concept of using good manners is not too tough for a child to grasp. A small child can learn very early on that it is unacceptable to hit their friend, or spit on them. They learn quickly that this is hurtful, and is not good manners. It can however, be tougher for them to recognize all of the different times each day that they could use their manners. You can help them from becoming overwhelmed, by giving them a few basic areas to focus on. For example: Rather than expecting them to know to say” thank you” to anyone for anything that they do for them, you should teach them that it is polite to say thank you when someone gives them something. As a child grows and develops, they will begin to make the connection with manners and other aspects of their lives. As you master one area of good manners, move on to a new one, giving them a fun new challenge!


Tips to help children display better manners in the classroom:


●Learn classmate’s names – Teaching a child to call one another by

name is very polite and an easy way to show good manners.

●No loud noises – When eating a meal or snack, children need to be respectful of those around them. Do not allow a child to get up and run around, or make unnecessary noises at the table. This can be very distracting to others.

●Hold the child accountable – If the child clearly knows how to display proper manners and is choosing not to do so, there should be redirection on your behalf at this time. Allowing a child to behave rudely without consequence can cause others to follow.

●Positive reinforcement – This is a teacher’s best weapon! Positive

reinforcement can be used in any and all aspects of caring for children. Kind words of encouragement, or recognition of success builds strong self- worth in a child.

●Focus on one at a time – Pick a few areas to work on and be consistent in those categories. Once a child has mastered one area, add a new one. Be careful not to overwhelm a child with expectations that are too high.

●Be patient – Teaching manners to a class full of toddlers can appear to be a losing battle at times! Stick with it, be consistent, and your work will pay off!

●Include the parents – Send notes home with your students. Let their parents know which manners you are focusing on and ask for them to assist you at home.

The more opportunity a child has to practice using his or her manners, the

quicker they will make them good habits.

As a child grows older, there are other areas in which it is beneficial for them to use their manners. One example would be answering the telephone. A child should be aware of how to speak on the phone. Children should be taught to talk slowly, clearly, loudly, and politely. An older child should also learn how to show

good manners by writing a letter or a thank-you card. Let them draw a picture or print their own name on YOUR letter to grandma. This is a great way to allow the child to be creative and express themselves, while also letting someone else know he/she is thinking of them.

Remembering to focus daily on manners and taking time to notice and provide positive reinforcement to a child that uses his or her manners are key. There are many opportunities in a childcare setting for you to introduce manners into the lives of the children you care for. Taking advantage of those opportunities will benefit both the children in your care and you, the teacher. When a child is more

aware of how to treat others, there is likely to be a more peaceful learning environment in your center. As a childcare provider you help to shape, educate and nurture the children you care for and teaching manners is a great way to help you do all of these things.


References and Resources:

• www.askdrsears.com

• www.parentkidsright.com

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