Getting your Kids to Master Back to School Manners

August 28, 2015


At my house in the summer we all get a little wild. We stay up too late, we don’t always brush our hair, and sometimes we even go barefoot. But in a few short days the school bells will ring and it will be back to civilization, which means it is also time that we are all back to being on our best behaviour. Children who understand how to behave in the classroom and who use good manners will have a more positive academic experience and be better able to participate in class and enjoy their day at school.

It can be very hard though for children to make the transition from a laid-back summer attitude to school ready manners — so I’ve put together my top five tips for mastering back to school manners.

1. Have a rule refresher

If you’ve been very relaxed about your manners all summer and you can’t remember the last time your child said please when they asked for something — then you really need to refresh your child on expectations. Go over all of the “magic words,” there are at least five (please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry and you’re welcome). Remind them when, how, where and why they should be used.

2. Praise them for saying please (and thank you)

Now that you’ve reestablished the ground rules — congratulate your children for putting them into action. Every time they remember to say please or thank your or they are courteous – praise them for their behaviour. Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to change a behaviour!

3. Model with your own good manners

Manners are like any behaviour that children learn – one of the most impactful ways that they are learned is through observation. So if you want your child to be polite to adults, you have to be polite to adults. Take this opportunity to “walk the talk” and show your children what a positive impact using good manners can have by letting them see you using them.

4. Learn from manners mistakes

One of the best ways to avoid a future mistake is to learn from past ones. Talk about manners mistakes that you have made and encourage your children to talk about their own. For example if they were rude to a teacher at school last year talk about the incident, the feelings that everyone experienced (e.g. were they angry or tired and overreacted) and then brainstorm solutions to prevent it from happening again. It will make you both feel more confident and they are much less likely to repeat the error.

5. Have a conversation about the classroom

Every new grade will come with new rules and the best way to prepare for it is to talk about it. Talk with your child about what the classroom will be like and brainstorm together what they can do to be well-mannered in class. Making a list that includes things like raising your hand, taking turns while talking, no running in the halls etc. will help to remind your child of what the world of school looks like and to make the transition back less shocking.

Enjoy these last few days of summer, and remember as you start to get back into routines — don’t forget to help your child get their manners back in shape for back to school!