The school-going years can be a big challenge for your child, regardless of how old he is. These years are a training ground for him to integrate himself into society in spite of his individualistic way of acting, feeling and being. In a nutshell, his classroom etiquette will reflect on how he will be perceived and respected in the outside world.
Now, let’s look at some ways by which you can help him improve and perfect his classroom etiquette. The following are the major areas wherein he can use your guidance:
1. Relating to others
- Acknowledging others shows your child’s teachers and classmates that she values them. A simple ‘Hi!’ to fellow-students and ‘good morning/ afternoon’ to teachers can make a world of difference to their day and hers. Acknowledging others initiates conversations and helps build and maintain relationships.
- Introductions are significant as these are how he makes his first impressions. How he introduces himself including his tone of voice, smile, eye-contact, posture and firm handshake can create indelible positive impressions. Practise a few lines of introduction that include his full name, main interests and an invitation to carry the conversation onward.
- Dealing with rejection is a necessary skill especially in classroom scenarios with bullies and cliques. She may not get invited to every party or chosen to play on the best team. Regardless, she needs to accept herself for who she is and not become who others want her to be. Show her how she can be gracious and smile in the face of such rejections. Remind her that it’s alright to be a loner and teach her how she can keep herself occupied even if she is alone.
2. Respecting common property and others’ possessions
- Classroom furniture and teaching facilities are not the responsibility of the school alone. Your child is accountable for these too. Show her the cost of these items from an online catalogue. Also, tell her that many children do not have these amenities in their classrooms. Show her how scribbling on desks, disabling devices and damaging furniture will inconvenience others.
- Borrowing books or stationery from classmates requires obtaining permission. Teach your child to never take anything from others’ desk or bag without asking them.
3. Possessing the right attitude
- Patience is a virtue because the ability to wait can help your child overcome anger, prevent conflict, avert crowding, avoid injuries related to rushing. Reinforce the idea that patience is always rewarded and that all good things take time to come into being. Use the metaphor of a seed germinating and growing into a tree to help her grasp the importance of this attitude.
- Politeness is the mark of a gentleman (or lady), which helps gain respect from others. Insist on the use of the words ‘please’, ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ at home. Drive home the fact that any request without ‘please’ or ‘may I’ is technically a demand. Set an example by using the word ‘sorry’ whenever applicable. Let your child know that saying ‘sorry’ is not a sign of weakness.
- Alertness is the ability to be quick to perceive and respond to information. It speeds up your child’s learning and leads to better application of knowledge.
4. Adhering to classroom rules
- Talking to classmates while the lesson is being taught is an absolute no-no. Your child needs to reserve her chit-chat for breaks or after-school hours. In case of emergencies, she can ask the teacher for permission to talk in class. This behaviour will teach her not to invade into another’s time and space.
- Eating in class is not allowed under any circumstances; but, your child can ask to be excused from class if he is very hungry. While eating during snack-breaks, he must wash his hands before and after eating, use the proper cutlery and clean up after himself. Good table manners will gain him respect in society.
5. Interacting in class
- Contributing in class shows that your child is attentive and able to understand what is being taught and discussed. If he is reluctant to add to the conversation, teach him to be assertive and not be afraid of making mistakes. On the other hand, if he is over-excited about speaking up in class, show him how to give others equal opportunities.
- Working alone and in groups requires separate skills. Working alone requires your child to be independent and creative. This will teach her to be self-sufficient. Working in groups and pairs needs her to invite opinions, accept suggestions and be inclusive of the ideas other than her own. This practice will teach her to be a good team member, appreciate team effort and develop team-building skills.
6. Being punctual and ensuring attendance
- Punctuality shows that your child values others’ time. Turning in homework and test papers on time prove how well she can manage her time. It requires her to plan time well-ahead of deadlines and adhere to time schedules.
- Attendance contributes to success. Never permit your child to miss school unless in cases of dire emergency. Plan trips according to the school’s holiday schedules. Ensure that his school work is up-to-date. If he falls ill, be sure to inform the school in writing. Good attendance is a habit that will help him later on when he is on his own.
7. Being prepared and organised
- Preparation is essential for consistent good performance. It requires your child to have a good grasp of the assigned work and do the required ground work. This will include reading articles, making models, drawing diagrams and creating slides for presentations.
- Organised work=Organised mind. This means that when your child’s work is organised her thoughts are organised. An organised mind is peaceful and does not make careless mistakes. Start with showing her how she can keep her study area and school bag well organised and neat. The ability to schedule her work by allotting time for homework, studying and extra reading will help her manage her work schedules in her professional career later.
Your help is invaluable not only to your child but also to her teachers. It assists them in monitoring her progress and helping her achieve her best in academics. Start today! Establishing proper classroom etiquette is well within your child’s reach with you by her side.
Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor
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