After the Labor Day weekend, children all across the country will finally be back in school. Some parents will be jumping for joy and rushing them out of the house desperate for some peace and quiet and others will be experiencing the bittersweet emotion of separation and loss that their “baby” is growing older. Regardless of your child’s age and how long they have been attending school, we have devised a list of back-to-school manners we believe will help you and your children transition more easily and gracefully into the new school year.
1. Obey “The Golden Rule”. We’ve heard it a hundred times. Treat others they way you would like to be treated. Think about it, if our children actually, consciously pondered this phrase I bet there would be a lot less hurt feelings, bullying, and unruly behavior in the classroom and on the playground.
2. Practice Safety First. Believe it or not, to be safe is to use good manners. When children are watching out for themselves and their fellow classmates, fewer accidents occur. This is true for both the school grounds as well as the surrounding parking area.
3. Bullying is Bad Behavior. Teach your children to be sweet and kind to their fellow schoolmates. Being a bully is usually a cry for help from a child who is in desperate need of some attention and love. Take the high road and show sensitivity towards that child until they are able to learn how to properly express themselves.
4. Friends Forever. Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold. Each year the students in the classrooms change. Children should view this as an opportunity to make new friends. They should be reminded to cultivate the relationships they already have, but also be encouraged to introduce themselves to new students and new classmates. Remember to stand up straight, smile and make good eye contact when making introductions.
5. Cut Out the Cliques and Be Inclusive of Everyone. All students want to be accepted by their peers at school. Speak to your children about the negative effects of whispering, gossiping or excluding others. Explain to them how they would feel if the shoe were on the other foot. They should be inclusive of everyone at all times at school, especially to new students who may be more shy or reserved. They do not have to engage everyone in deep conversation, but a friendly and warm smile is a must!
6. Make Cleanliness & Hygiene a Top Priority. The Swine Flu epidemic was enough to put most parents on high alert. Teach your teacher the value and importance of cleanliness and hygiene. Make sure they wash their hands (with soap) repeatedly throughout the day, sneeze into their arm as opposed to their hands (which carry germs) and (for those with long locks) wear their hair up in a ponytail or braids to avoid bringing home lice.
7. Be True to Your School. Children should be respectful towards the school administration and staff. Encourage them to channel their inner school spirit and support their school teams both academic and sports related. Motivate them to run for student council or take the lead on a charitable drive to raise funds for the school.
8. Practice Good Study Habits. Children quickly learn that homework only gets more difficult as you get older. Better to learn good study habits when you are young so that they become second nature as you progress into higher education. Assist them in creating a schedule with blocks of time for work and for play so that no matter how much work they have, they will feel a sense of balance.
9. Birthday Parties & Sleepovers. This goes back to our rule about inclusion. Children should be sensitive to their schoolmate’s feelings and not exclude individuals. For birthday parties, they should either invite the entire class, keep it a same gender party or limit themselves to two or three friends for an intimate celebration. They should send party invitations via email or mail and not through backpacks as they are easily lost. For sleepovers, teach your children to discuss their plans after school to avoid any hurt feelings from friends who are not part of the plan. If they discover a friend is within earshot, suggest to them a sleepover plan for another date in the future.
10. Back-to-School Manners are Not Just for Kids! Parents are often some of the worst offenders. Greet fellow parents each day with a warm and friendly smile. Remember to include new parents in school activities and special events. Avoid gossip or negative comments about other parents or the school. Use the magic words unconditionally and often with teachers, administration and staff. Your children emulate you and will do as you do and not as you say. Better to set them on the right course by setting a good example. Remind them of your expectations and rules with regard to their manners and behavior in general. This will provide them with the confidence they need to achieve in school and have a productive and successful year!