Really and truly, I am not one of those people who sits around complaining about younger generations. I'm not old enough for that yet, but I have noticed lately how many kids don't seem to know much about the subject of manners. Mine included. We're pretty casual around here, and although I like that I do think my kids would benefit from learning proper manners.
This is good for me too. As we've done this I have come to realize how casual I have gotten. I frequently catch myself with my elbows on the table and I've never ever been good with Thank You notes. I've sworn to rectify this, as it sets a bad example for the kids.
In thinking about how to teach this I've broken it down into a few categories. I'm sure more will occur to me, but for the moment I think this is enough for the kids to take in.
1. Table Manners
-How to set a table
-Please and thank you
-No complaining (I was a stickler for this already)
-Elbows off the table
-Chew with your mouth closed
-If a strange food is offered to you, at least try it
-If you are at someone else's house, thank them for inviting you and for their efforts
-Wait to be excused
-Hands to yourself
-Help clear the table (at home) offer to help when at a friend or family member's home
2. Playtime Manners
-If a friend is over, let them pick what to play
-If you are at a friends, clean up before you leave. At home, clean up when you are done.
-When leaving a friends, thank them and their parent for inviting you
-Please and Thank You
-Follow other people's house rules, even if they aren't the same as ours
-Listen to the adult in charge
-Never be a sore loser or gloat when you win
3. Correspondence and Communication
-Answer the phone politely
-Take a message if someone can't come to the phone
-Be polite to people who have dialed the wrong number
-When someone gives you a gift, thank them in person and send a thank-you note
-If someone is talking on the phone, be quiet so as not to disturb them
-Don't talk on the phone to one friend while another is over
It will take some time, I'm sure, but I think this will be a really valuable exercise for my kids.