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Teaching Children about Manners In the Elementary Classroom

Good manners matter! They help us show good character traits and understand boundaries so we can be respectful of others. To build good manners, our little learners often need a lot of practice at school to improve their social-emotional skills and interactions with others.

Moving beyond teaching please, thank you, and excuse me, we need solutions to help kids understand the virtues that make a great classroom environment, help us to be mindful of other people, and understand how to show kindness beyond just saying the words we have been taught. 

We often hear adults tell kids, “You owe him an apology,” or, “Don’t forget to say thank you,” but how do we make those words matter intrinsically and help the values behind them stick? Some say learning manners should start at home, but if we’re honest, our students spend most of their daytime hours with us, and our classroom should feel like a comfortable, safe place where they can learn and practice positive social behaviors. Not to mention, many students don’t have an ideal home life to reinforce the importance of manners. Teaching and practicing manners in your classroom gives both you and your students an excellent opportunity to set the tone for a positive environment.

There are lots of simple, accessible, and developmentally appropriate ways to help teach manners in our primary classrooms. You’ll find a few ideas below to help inspire you to integrate them in your own unique way and encourage teammates and parents to do the same.

Great Books that Teach Children Manners

We LOVE a great read-aloud, and there are tons of children’s books out there that can help teach the value of manners, AND you can find creative ways to integrate them into your curriculum as well. Get students writing and practicing critical reading readiness skills like making predictions, connections, building prior understanding, and more.

Teaching about why manners are important and showing kids tangible positive and negative examples of manners, kindness, and other social skills through stories will help students connect the concepts back to themselves and teach children to manage their thoughts, words, and actions.

Whether you’re teaching manners and social skills to primary students in a private or public school setting or you want to make recommendations to a family looking to practice better manners at home, there is something out there for every environment. Here are just a handful of beloved titles that teach about manners and politeness:

It’s Hard to be 5 by Jamie Lee Curtis 

Interrupting Chicken  by Ezra Stein 

What If Everybody Did That? By Ellen Javernick

May I Please Have a Cookie? by Jennifer E Morris 

My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook

Kindness is my Superpower: A children’s Book about Empathy, Kindness, and Compassion by Alicia Ortego 

Links to more information to share or adapt for your students

Teaching children about manners helps to strengthen their relationships, teaches them empathy for others, and impacts how others respond to them. Even for English-language learners or students from various cultures and backgrounds, teaching and modeling how to be polite and encouraging polite interaction brings positive light and connection into students’ conversations, especially in ice-breaking moments!

If you are looking for more resources about teaching children manners for yourself, student families, colleagues, and community members, below are some additional links for support.

Why Teaching Your Child Manners is so Important 

Synopsis: Good manners teach children to respect others, as well as bring them opportunities and appreciation from others that will benefit them in the future.

The Importance of Teaching Manners To Kids 

Synopsis: Typically, between the age of 5-7, children will be learning to process emotions like gratitude and thoughtfulness, such as the joy of picking and then giving a gift for a friend’s birthday. It’s also a time when they begin honoring other people’s feelings, like including younger ones in activities.

The Age-Appropriate Guide to Teaching Kids Manners 

Synopsis: This parent’s guide shows how to support good manners in children. It covers all stages of childhood and outlines how to guide young children to interact appropriately with other people and develop their listening skills and sense of morals.

How Rude! An Age-by-Age Guide to Teaching Kids Manners 

Synopsis: Our behavior and values as parents directly impact how our children treat others. Our children need to begin learning manners as soon as they can understand, as early as a few months, and then move on to more advanced, age-appropriate concepts as they get older.

Ready, Set, Shine!!

I hope you’re energized and ready to put some of these resources and ideas into practice with your students this year. You can check out my related blog posts here for more tips on supporting social-emotional development with primary students to create an ideal learning environment. And make sure you have joined the Facebook group where primary educators can share and learn great ideas and tips to help all students shine!

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