teaching manners

Combine Art, Manners, Kids for Magic – #7 Magic for Preschool – Kindergarten

If you need a formula for magic, combine art, manners, kids and imagination. This month, people who work with kids are sharing  their wishes for programs like preschool and kindergarten. Both moms, Nicolle and Catherine, wanted more hands-on activities and Nicolle had a suggestion. Not just play dough, how about a clay station?play with clay

The word clay reminded me of a friend Terri Hardin, a Disney sculptor. In her book, she writes she was “Constantly creating and always in motion….” Doesn’t that sound like kids too? Always on the go with minds thinking and bodies making. Even when kids are taking things apart, they are still creating.

Terri also wrote about why clay was so appealing to her. We live in a 3-d world. Sculpting is creating in 3-d while drawing is trying to squeeze three dimensions onto a 2-d paper. There are other differences too. While both use imaginations, clay is far more sensory for hands than paper, paints, and crayons. Kids can really dig their hands into clay. No wonder a clay station is a wish for children’s care programs and school.


In an e-mail from Terri she is sharing her latest project, a show for kids that combines art, manners, kids, and imagination in both 2-d and 3-d. Some 2 dimensional characters, Dabbler and Bump, explore manners along with the host Mifren who “will draw, sculpt, paint and glue, do origami and pumpkin sculpt, carve ice, or do just about anything, to show kids all the different ways they can express themselves besides just talking.” Using a magic art easel, they travel into the 3-d world of out-going teen Buddy. Here is a link to the KickStarter campaign now until there is a website: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/803941245/mifrens-manner-a-kids-show-inspiring-manners-throu


Often on this blog, I’ve written about the critical importance of social skills for children’s development. The goal of the show is something we all want, “If we teach appropriate behavior and social tolerance during these years, we can create a safer social and school environment.” This is surely something we all want. Isn’t it wonderful to have a wish that can come true?


Kindergarten Readiness/Early Learning – Minding P’s and Q’s

While working on writing posts for kindergarten readiness and early learning for each alphabet letter, p and q reminded me of the expression “minding your p’s and q’s.” This expression refers to minding your manners, and manners are an important part of social skills. Young children will begin spending time away from their parents, in groups such as day care, playschool, preschool and later kindergarten, and having learned and practiced these skills will help them be more independent.music-pair

Following is a simple, short song with some “magic words.” It piggy-backs on the tune Mulberry Bush.

Please, thank you, excuse me, sorry.
Please, thank you, excuse me, sorry.
Please, thank you, excuse me, sorry. These are magic words.

2-for-teaThere are many picture books and stories that you can use as you read and talk with your child about manners. There are even several apps! Plus, you can make up stories to go with a moment when needed. For instance, if your child needs some reminders at the table about please and thank you, have a fork tell a spoon. Or, if a “sorry” is needed when a little one gets water all over the floor after a bath, have the towel tell you it is sorry for the mess and will help to clean up. The dirty clothes can say they are sorry for not getting into the laundry hamper.

Songs and stories are another way of sending the same message, and sometimes our words are more effective when attached to music or imagination. There are certainly other needed social skills such as being able to talk about feelings, self-regulation, sharing, negotiating and others. These and manners skills are not just important for interactions, but also for children’s self-confidence as they increasingly develop their independence. What are some other suggestions for p’s and q’s?

Readiness for Kindergarten – Lessons in the Kitchen #3

When it comes to success after graduating from school, do you think it is more advantageous for your child to be smart or to be polite? While I have oversimplified the question, new research is showing that social skills have a greater influence on income than academic achievement. (Institute for Social Research) And, the early years of a child’s life, before s/he starts school are tremendously important for learning social skills, not just for kindergarten readiness.

Some early social skills for children are sharing and taking turns. Another aspect is good manners and the kitchen is the perfect place to practice some of these, especially because manners are often associated with food and eating. Please and thank you are popular words at family meal times. Two of the first ten signs that parents teach wee little ones are commonly the ones for please (hand circles on body just below chin) and thank you (fingers tap chin and then point to the giver). Modelling, that is using these words ourselves sets an example. Another effective strategy is to let children know we appreciate when they say please and thank you. Snack time at kindergarten is often a highlight of the day for kids, so practicing table manners at home will help your child at school.

As with all the other blogs for this month, I’m posting about ways that parents and caregivers can promote kindergarten readiness at home at the same time as they are doing chores and other activities. There’s no need to add extra time to already busy days. Just an extra ingredient. Does this make readiness for kindergarten easier for you?