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Good Manners Are So Important

As an Early Years teacher, I've listed some of the basic good manners I'd expect a child to display when coming into school. Starting school can be a trauma for both you and your child. But if you make sure he has some of these basic skills, it'll make life much easier - for both of you.

The Seven Vital Good Manners Your Child Needs For Starting School.

Have good manners gone out of the window?

Is it now old fashioned or 'uncool' to be polite to other people?

Certainly, when starting school and being part of this larger community, certain good manners are essential.

As an Early Years teacher, I've listed some of the basic good manners I'd expect a child to display when coming into school. Starting school can be a trauma for both you and your child. But if you make sure he has some of these basic skills, it'll make life much easier - for both of you.

Learning and displaying these manners will make everyone's life easier and help your little one settle into school more comfortably, which in turn will give YOU peace of mind.

1. Listen politely and take turns to speak. Children will be expected to listen to adults and peers and not only respond in an appropriate manner, but also take turns when doing so. This is something you can practise at home during family or meal times. Just five or ten minutes a day, and your child will soon know what is expected and how to be part of a conversation. You will find ideas of just HOW to achieve this and many other important skills in my book... "I Don't Want My Baby To Start School"

2. Ability to ask for what they want to do and discuss problems /ideas with their peers. Shouting and snatching will not be acceptable behaviour. Children need to be able to express themselves clearly and politely ask for what they want. This often includes being aware of and expressing their emotions. If children can't do this, they may well become upset because they're unable to explain what they mean or why they want something.

3. Say please and thank you. Yes this is basic but you'd be surprised how many children don't do this automatically. And it's important to do so when you're part of a larger community. Not only is it polite but it ensures that others respond to you more readily and so cement friendships.

4. Share toys and take turns. Now I expect you've been working on this one for ages, so I can only reinforce how important it is at school. When a large group of children have to live together they need to get on with each other and form friendships. An inability to share will make life extremely difficult. It could easily result in other children not wanting to play with them or them becoming unhappy and feeling isolated. And friendships are so important if they are to settle down well and more forward. So work hard on this skill by giving your little one plenty of experience of playing with others before school starts.

5. Sit at dinner table throughout the mealtime. Whether your child has school dinner or a packed lunch, they'll be expected to sit at the table for the whole of the mealtime- no getting up and having a wander round if they feel like it. You'd be surprised how much of a shock this is to some children and can caused added distress at an already unsettling time of the day. So practise this at home; sit at the table with your little one while he's eating, even if you're not eating yourself at that time. Have a cup of tea and chat - a great opportunity to practise those speaking and listening skills we've already mentioned.

6. Use a knife and fork correctly without making a mess. Yes this is tricky for a four year old - but a certain amount of skill will be expected so that food can be consumed quickly and without making too much mess. In my book, I outline ideas of how to teach this skill. One of them is through play with playdough, which being soft is easy to cut. Offer a play knife and fork, show your child how to hold them and then play with him so you can see where any difficulty arises and put it right before bad habits are formed. Once he has the knack, transfer to soft foods at meal time.

7. Use the toilet/bathroom correctly leave it tidy for others. It's pain, I know, but leaving the bathroom clean and tidy for those who follow you, is vital when so many children are using the same facilities. So, toilet seat down; no paper left on the floor; soap on the side of the sink and taps turned off; paper towels in the bin etc. Just an aside here. If your little chap has never used a urinal, it'd be as well to give him that experience before he starts school. I remember having to console a little chap who was petrified when the urinal flushed automatically while he was having a pee. It was days before I could get him to go back by himself again - and you can imagine what problems that caused!

Displaying good verbal manners and socially acceptable behaviour will help your child enormously when he starts school. If he has to begin learning these social graces after he starts school it will take his focus off accessing the curriculum and causing him to fall behind those who have already achieved these important social skills.

Barbara Fyles

Early Years Expert and Author of "I Don't Want My Baby To Start School"

"...your child only has once chance to make a great start. Let's make sure we get it right - together."

Barbara Fyles is both parent, grandparent and has 30 years practical experience as an Early Years Teacher. She is a published author of 'I Don't Want My Baby To Start School', which is a hands on programme dedicated to helping parents help their children to succeed in the early years at school, and help both children and parents cope with the stress of this life changing experience.

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