I'm pretty big on good manners at school - or Common Courtesies, as we call them. Our Common Courtesies include greeting people when you first meet them for the day, saying please and thank you, knowing how to enter a room politely, using 'excuse me' in its correct context, using each other's names and a few others. At Peregian Springs we teach these to children explicitly, and everyone models their use. Our Common Courtesies are demonstrated everywhere everyday by students, teachers and other staff members - and we love it when parents reinforce these at home too.
Our students' manners is one of the things visitors to our school comment on nearly every week - visitors seem to be amazed at how polite and courteous our kids are. And I'm always terribly proud of them when they walk past me as I'm escorting a group of visitors and call out 'Good morning, Ms Sands', spontaneously and without any prompting! (This often happens in the supermarket in the afternoon too!)
Being consistent with our teaching of manners is important - those of you at Assembly on Friday would have heard me pull up the school and chastise them for talking and walking away while one of our Student Leaders was trying to close Assembly. I'm happy to say, I rarely have to do this, as mostly our kids are happy and polite students without being reminded. For me, though, setting and maintaining the standard is important.
Why do we think manners are important enough to teach? It's because a few common courtesies make the world a nicer place to be in - a smile improves a recipient's day; a please, a thank you and a polite knock on a door helps someone feel respected; the use of a person's name creates connection; and an 'excuse me' often leads to another feeling cared about.
Common Courtesies are the key to helping us function as a community - they demonstrate care and respect, and help us get along with each other harmoniously. A father said to me the other day about his son's discovery of the shower, 'He's just realised that smelling nice helps him get along with people better!' And this is what I think about manners - they help us get along with people better!