6 Manners Children Should Know Before First Grade

Children learn by observing the adults around them and we should be aware of what are we teaching our children about manners and etiquette with our daily actions.

Do you feel offended when people get in your personal space? Are you anxious in a new social situation? Do you feel ignored when someone is talking on their phone and not paying attention to your conversation? How do you think children feel in these situations? Children learn by observing the adults around them and we should be aware of what are we teaching our children about manners and etiquette with our daily actions.

girl with ballThink about teaching a toddler to say please and thank you. They earn praise when they say the words and this positive reinforcement encourages them to repeat the behavior. It’s important to pay attention to our manners and etiquette so children learn the social rules that allow them to better function in society. Here are 6 manners that young children can learn:

1. Please. Younger children are known for grabbing items from your hands or taking things without asking. As they approach first grade, it’s an appropriate time to understand the need to slow down and ask instead of grabbing and taking. Make sure children ask, “May I please have the soccer ball”. This is also an appropriate time to add the word please when children order food at a restaurant or when socializing with neighbors. This helps them understand that please should be used with family and friends as well as those in our community.

2. Mr. and Ms. Our society today is more casual than in the past, but it is still important for children to know how to show respect when they meet someone new or are addressing adults, especially teachers. Introduce children using Mister, Miss, or Doctor. Let children know they should only call someone by their first name if they know them well or are given permission to do so. Also, let children practice introducing themselves to others, shaking hands, and sharing their name with “nice to meet you.” Repeating someone’s name is a wonderful way to help children remember the name and show they are paying attention.

3. Personal Space. Personal spaces seem to be getting smaller and smaller so be sure to respect the space of others. When you are sitting in a movie theater or on a plane, you should sit within the space allocated for a single person. Also, be sure to keep your personal belongings in the area around your seat rather than encroaching on another’s space. This teaches children to respect other people’s personal space.

4. Technology. As technology continues to change and improve, our society adjusts our expectations. It is not unusual to see someone walking on a sidewalk and apparently talking to themselves when they are in a conversation on their phone. Young children should learn that phones are not appropriate for use during meal times, play dates, and other times when social interactions should be the focus. Also, show young children that situational awareness is important by using headphones with caution when jogging, biking, or participating in other activities near motor vehicles. It’s important that we model the behavior we want our children to emulate so we need to remember there is a time and a place to use cell phones and other electronic devices.

girl in clown costume5. Invitations. Young children need to learn they are not necessarily welcome everywhere. It may seem cute for a smaller child to invite themselves into a neighbor’s house but as they get older, children need to learn to ask. Children may invite the neighbors out to play or over to their house. Children also need to learn that not everyone may be invited to a party. When invited, it’s important to teach children to make a commitment to either attend or not attend and let the host know so the host can plan the party without wondering how many guests will attend. Also, if children see a party at the playground or community pool, they need to understand they were not invited and cannot ‘crash’ the party.

6. Thank You Notes. Letter writing can be a lost art, but when you receive a gift, it is appropriate to thank the person for the gift. When someone takes the time to think about you and give you a gift you should recognize their kindness. If a child learns to do this at an early age they will find it becomes second nature. Children should also learn that it is not appropriate to expect gifts or ask for them. With technology today, some find it acceptable to receive an email or text message as a thank you but remember how nice it is to receive a letter or card via snail mail and encourage young children to write thank-you notes when appropriate.

We love the genuine honesty and purity of young children and sometimes it is tough to see them grow up. As childcare providers and parents, we need to support age-appropriate societal growth of the children in our care. It may be hard to see that cute little baby as a little boy or girl but helping them grow into children, then young adults are important steps. Teaching manners will help children grow and engage with others, developing the necessary skills to help them be more successful in adulthood.

To learn more, a Manners and Etiquette course is available with enrollment in the Specialist Childcare program at AmsleeInstitute.com.

About the Author. Kathryn Gonsalves earned a Master of Art in Psychology from Humboldt State University and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Campbell University. Kathryn is a teacher in Virginia as well as an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies and Sitters.

5 Ways to Add Music Education to Your Child’s Routine

Music is so important to children because it enhances speaking and vocal development, communication and attention skills.

Music is so important to children because it enhances speaking and vocal development, communication and attention skills. When activities include music and play, children have the ability to focus and develop listening skills. Children also learn ways to express themselves and engage socially.

Music can be used to reinforce everything you are doing with children, from learning colors to brushing teeth. You can easily add music throughout your day – at breakfast, dinner, playtime, naptime, and even in the car.

There are songs you can use to reinforce the skills or content you are trying to teach. Here are five ways to add music to your child’s routine.

1. For infants, music can be added to playtime. To practice hand movements that improve coordination, listen to Two Little Blackbirds and create a bird by looping your two thumbs together. As you recite the song, your ‘bird’ flies around. This is a great activity for infants as they often imitate the birds’ movements. You can substitute your child’s name instead of using the names Peter and Paul. To provide variety and help build their vocabulary, ask your little one to give you some names, perhaps mom’s name, brother’s name, or dad’s name.

2. For toddlers, music can be used to introduce counting as part of a nap time routine. Here is the song Ten Little Angels. We chose to use pots and kitchen items so don’t think you need expensive instruments to make music. Music making should be a fun and enjoyable process as seen in the video. You can have your child experiment with keeping the beat softly or loudly, marching or skipping. Make sure to vary movement and dynamics. Let children experiment, succeed, or fail, creating a safe, fun way to learn. At this age, mistakes do not really matter, it’s all about the learning process.

3. Music can help preschoolers learn colors, as in the song, Sing a Rainbow. You can use socks, plastic dishes, gloves, streamers, or anything that will provide you with the colors required. Have the child point or pick up the colored object as it is sung. If you have more than one child, you can give each child a specific color and have him/her hold up their colored object as you sing it. Before and/or after you sing the song, ask the child about the color of an object in a room such as, “What is the color of the rug?” “What in this room is green?” By doing this, you do two things: first, you assess are assessing what your child may or may not already know; and secondly, you build the child’s vocabulary and association with colors.

4. For kindergartners, music can be used to help them gain independence during their morning routine. For example, select a song that is 2 minutes long. Have this song play while they brush their teeth, so they learn how long they should brush. Then add a second song and teach them to use this time to choose their clothes, put their pajamas in the laundry basket, and get dressed. Adding a third song would indicate it’s time to put their lunch box and book in their backpack for school.

5. As children grow into first grade, memorization and advanced learning can be improved through music. I Know an Old Lady is a sing along and it’s often challenging to recall the order as it’s a long song, and sometimes a tongue-twister. Notice I have the animals from the song hanging on the wall behind me. This is to help the child sing along and recall the order (and help you if you do not have the animals memorized). You do not need anything fancy to do this song; before I bought the Old Lady Puppet, I used colored drawings of the animals.

Adding music to a child’s day is all about having fun so don’t worry if you are not a musician or singer. Sing – even if you don’t think you have the “best voice”, as a child is not going to judge you and singing helps them build their vocabulary. Play Instruments! You can use everyday household items such as pots and pans and wooden spoons. You don’t necessarily have to have a real instrument. Make instruments – a shaker can be as simple as an empty water bottle filled with popcorn kernels

Music has proven to increase learning so provide lots of opportunities for children to create and explore music. Encourage children to listen to different types of music and experiment with creating rhythms while making their own music. This helps children realize that they can make decisions for themselves as they build critical thinking skills.

For more information about using music to care for children, a Children and Music course is available within the Advanced Childcare Certification Program from Amslee Institute.

Dr. Beth StutzmannAbout the Author. Dr. Beth Stutzmann earned her Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education from Shenandoah University, Master of Music in Horn Performance from Oklahoma City University, and Bachelor of Music in Music Education from The Boston Conservatory of Music. Dr. Stutzmann began her teaching career in public schools, instructing general music classes in grades PreK-8. She is the AP Music Theory Curriculum Writer for the University System of California and teaches for Georgia Virtual School. She was named Governor’s Teaching Fellow in 2012. In the same year, she was also the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success. Dr. Stutzmann is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

8 Role Model Behaviors for Nannies and Babysitters

Ensuring children are around positive role models and childcare providers will help them learn a vast array of social skills.

It’s so cute when a 3-year old boy wears a team jersey and cheers for his dad’s team. It’s adorable when a 4-year old girl wears mom’s shoes and carries her purse around the house. Imitating the behaviors of adults and other children is commonplace from infancy through adulthood. It’s amazing how much children learn from watching others. Ensuring children are around positive role models and childcare providers will help them learn a vast array of social skills.

As a nanny, you spend a lot of time with children. These children look to you and will learn from your words, actions, and behaviors. Here are 8 things to consider when you are working with children:

1. Lead by example.

When you are driving and another car cuts you off, it is often tempting to yell at the other driver. If there are children in the car with you, think about the message you are sending to them. You don’t really want them to think it’s okay to shout or say mean things to others. Instead, keep the words of annoyance and frustration in your head. Speak to the children and share that the person driving the other car made a bad choice or a mistake and that you are going to focus on making good choices. This teaches accountability and independent decision making.

2. Listen to children.

Children see the world in wonderful and surprising ways. Because of their curiosity, they often see things that adults overlook. It’s easy as an adult to ‘half-listen’ when a child is sharing something with you. Instead, focus on what the child is saying and ask questions to really understand what the child is thinking or trying to communicate. This teaches children that what they say is important to you. It also teaches them active listening and social skills. Adults can also benefit from this as they often see things from a different, and sometimes a more interesting perspective.

3. Use positive re-enforcement.

Caregivers can get into the habit of saying “No” a lot. Of course, in a situation where the child may get hurt – “No” is important and children must be kept safe. But if you find yourself saying “No” to everything – you may want to rethink your approach. If Johnny wants to go outside and it’s raining – instead of just saying “No’, you may want to say “Johnny, it’s raining so we can’t go outside right now. Would you rather play with your blocks or train set?” If you get down to Johnny’s level with open body language and a pleasant voice – Johnny will most likely choose one of the options and begin to play. If you encourage his selection and comment on how nicely he is playing, everyone has a better day!

child playing with blocks4. Creative and positive outlets.

Everyone has stress in their lives. Having a way to manage stress positively is important for childcare providers and children. When you are feeling stressed, don’t be afraid to show children how you handle it. Let them see you taking a few deep breaths or jogging in place. When you recognize stress in children, help them cope by doing deep breathing exercises with them, or playing soft music, or running with them to let off steam. Children who learn stress coping techniques will fare better at handling adult stresses later in life.

5. Be confident.

Children want to feel safe and secure and if they think an adult is scared or unsure, then they may feel insecure or anxious. In day to day interactions, using a strong voice and clear sentences conveys confidence. If you tend to talk out loud to yourself and you say, “I wonder if we have food for lunch”, it may make a younger child worry about their next meal even if the kitchen is fully stocked. Watch what you say and think about how a child might interpret it. If you are thinking about lunch, ask Sally if she wants a sandwich or chicken for lunch instead of wondering what is available. This provides Sally confidence there is food and empowers Sally in the decision-making process.

6. Be Respectful of others.

Being disrespectful is often easy to see in others but harder to see in ourselves. The grimace on our face when we disagree with someone on the news or the comment about the woman in line who is wearing too much perfume are both behaviors that will be mimicked by children. To teach positive behaviors, we need to exhibit them, so this means saying please, thank you, and excuse me to others. It also means paying attention to our body language. When our words differ from our actions, children get confused.

7. Positive relationships.

Children will learn how to build relationships with family, friends, and future romantic partners based on their relationships as children. If a family hugs and freely shares their feeling, then children will be comfortable with these behaviors. If friends are treated kindly and show understanding and forgiveness, then children will be better able to adopt these traits.

8. Be humble and kind.

Teaching children about charity and kindness can help them see past their daily needs and understand more about our world and the power of working together. Children watch our daily interactions with others and we need to make sure they learn humility and politeness. Holding the door for the next person to enter a building, giving up your seat on a bus or subway car, and smiling at people you meet are all ways to show a child how to be a better person.

While it is incredibility rewarding to work with children, it also has important responsibilities including role model behaviors. As young children learn by watching others, it’s important to demonstrate the behaviors you want children to mimic and learn. If you want children to be patient, then show them how to patiently wait for an appointment to help them learn this skill. From fist-pumping when our favorite football team scores a goal to calming an upset friend, children will mimic you. Take a few minutes to think about how you can use this to your (and their) advantage.

For more information about role model behaviors for childcare providers, a Professionalism course is available within the Basic Childcare Certification from Amslee Institute.

About the Author. Karli Ortmann is a professional nanny with over 8 years of experience and is currently earning a Master of Art in Counseling from Chicago Professional School of Psychology. Karli is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

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