Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The ABCs of School Etiquette

School comes along at the worst possible time. On top of experiencing the normal childhood fears, awkwardness, and other growing pains, children are for the first time meeting authority figures who are not their parents and peers who are not their siblings. It’s a time when a child should be armed with a code of behavior and a positive attitude about manners and respect for others. In brief, a child should know about etiquette.
Unfortunately, etiquette is not one of the subjects that administrators include in the curriculum of most schools.
Consider how life would improve for most students if elementary school provided that missing code of conduct in an orderly and systematic fashion, by an adult other than a parent and with the use of a textbook to give the code weight and authority. The truth is, we have to make up as best we can for this lack.

Child Etiquette in School

By all standards, children ask more questions about getting along with other children than about any other aspect of human interaction. No matter how straightforward or even trivial the questions may seem to you, remember that, to the youngster, these matters are worrisome, complicated, and urgently important. Children absolutely need to know certain things when dealing with their peers, and learning these things from adults is a lot less painful than learning through experience. They need to know about the rules—etiquette if you will—that will help them behave appropriately in difficult situations:
  • Parties: What do you wear? What do you say? What do you do?
  • Dates: Who asks? Who pays? What do you wear? What do you say? What do you do?
Youngsters also have to know that all friends have disagreements, even fights, and that doesn’t mean they have to stop being friends. They have to know how to respond to bullies and to kids who cheat in school.
It’s a complicated world. Children need all the information they can get. This chapter helps you give your child the answers they need.

Condolence Letters from Children

A parent of your child’s close friend has died. Even if your child has attended the funeral, sent flowers, visited, or telephoned, a condolence letter is a must. A commercial sympathy card will not do. Remember that condolence letters are comforting and diverting for those who have suffered a loss. Sometimes they become part of the family history to be passed down through the generations.
The letter should be written in ink with a fountain pen if possible. Try to use black ink. If the child’s handwriting is hard to read, it is all right to have the letter typed and signed in ink.
The condolence letter should not be a formal, formula letter; it should be written from the heart. Your child can begin by acknowledging the friend’s loss and saying that he or she feels sad about it. The condolence letter is the place to recall the special characteristics of the deceased, visits to your home, lessons learned from that person, good times shared. Such reminiscences celebrate the life of the deceased rather than being morbid and depressing about the loss.
Above all, don’t spend all your time saying how upset you are. The person who receives it might think you are the one who should be getting the condolence letter.