Ah, the dawn of a new school year.  Kids are kicking and screaming for having to wake up early after almost three solid months of sleeping in late while parents are rejoicing that they’ll have the house back to themselves to binge watch their favorite show on Netflix without interruption.  Not so fast. The race to ensure everyone in the housefhold is appropriately dressed and properly nourished with backpacks and lunches in tow, in the wee hours of the morning, is relentless.  Add in the pressure cooker of arriving at the bus stop on time or fighting traffic in the carpool lane and it’s enough to send anyone over the edge.  Let the games begin. 
Whether they’re beginning the first day of kindergarten or starting senior year of high school, the basic tenets of back-to-school manners never change.  Arming children with these important skills, before they step foot on campus, will increase confidence and guarantee success this new school year.

1. Put Effort into Presentation. New dress codes have been established at many schools across the country with extra attention paid to skirt lengths, bare shoulders, and tight or low waisted pants. Staying within school guidelines limits wardrobe competition and eliminates distraction.  Dress for the season and the weather, they don’t always coincide. Wear athletic footware for everyday or closed toe shoes for formal occasions.  Putting effort into presentation it is not for show, but an act of self-respect as well as respect for the institution.  

2. Fraternize Politely with Friends.  The first few days and weeks at school are crucial for reconnecting with old friends and cultivating new relationships. Be that brave soul who greets everyone with a smile and kind words. Don’t be a busy gossip sticking your nose in everyone’s business. Mind your own. Never bully and step up if you see another person the victim of bullying. Look for opportunities to include others. Seek out those who are alone and invite them to join you and your friends.  This small act of sensitivity will leave a positive and lasting impact.
3. Hold Court in the Classroom. Draw attention to yourself, not by being the class clown, but by being the class role-model. Develop a respectful rapport with your teacher saying hello and goodbye each day. Raise your hand rather than blurting out. Sit up straight and lean in to actively listen. Participate and contribute to the conversation, don’t detract from it. Create, collaborate and cooperate with classmates on assignments and projects. Respect personal space. Never let your eyes wander to copy another’s homework or cheat on a test.   

4. Play Nice on the Field.  Safety comes first. Dress for athletic activities. Hair worn up or pulled back away from the face. Sneakers tightly laced to prevent tripping. Physical exercise is great for the mind and body. Give it your all. Practice good sportsmanship and be a team player. Be supportive to teammates, praise them for their efforts, and remember to thank all for a game well-executed.

5. Make the Most of Table Manners.  Elevate the lunch experience by implementing the tools of the table.  Whether you bring lunch from home or eat the lunch provided at school, dare to dine with some semblence of decorum.  Be sensitive to nut allergies. Avoid packing pungent smelling foods. Never cut the cafeteria line. Recyle where possible and clean up after your own mess.  Lunch is a bonding experience.  Include new friends and old to join you at the table.

6. Keep Tabs on Technology. Or the school will do it for you. Administrators may have access to your social media and be able to monitor your postings. This comes in response to an increase in cyber-bullying, school threats and other cries for help. Remember social media is a public forum. Know that anything transmitted electronically is permanent and privacy does not exist. Tablets and computers should be used for schoolwork only, not to shop online or socialize. Use schooltime to hone your interpersonal skills such as making good eye contact, engaging in face-to-face conversation, listening for tone of voice, and reading facial gestures. Listen and be present to your teachers and your friends.

A special note to parents. Back-to-school is not just for kids. When driving on campus, wait patiently in line for pickups and drop offs. Don’t even think about honking. Park carefully in spaces. Greet parents in the hall with a smile and a few simple pleasantries. Sign up and volunteer for school activities when possible. Offer to help fellow parents in need with carpooling duties or a delivered meal.