I've started teaching kids etiquette as a side project. My kids are okay, but I noticed that they definitely needed some work in certain areas in the manners world. I tried to find a program to send them to and couldn't find what I was looking for, so I started a program myself. I had training when I was a kid and it was a good thing. The world needs basic kindness and good behavior. Now that it's summer, I'm doing little summer camps for kids.
Children are absolutely hilarious. They always say or do something totally unexpected. And I end up learning so many things. For example:
1) When I asked them at the beginning of the session to throw out manners they already know, I got the standard: Say please and thank you, don't put elbows on the table, don't chew with your mouth open. I wrote them all down enthusiastically. Then one girl shouted very seriously, "Don't stick a fork in your eye!" And another said, "Don't spit gum into someone's hair." Wow, there is so much I need to consider when I'm teaching these classes. I hadn't really thought of those as something I would need to teach. But both had been a problem for those kids in the past. So there you go.
2) I am good at providing snacks, but not completely. They love the scones and banana bread, and other fancy displays of treats. But in my comment sheet at the end of a camp, one child wrote, "You really need more drinks." Duly noted.
3) There are more rules about gum than I had taken the time to consider. One group of kids spent 15 solid minutes talking about all the ways you could be impolite with gum.
4) Kids love to role play. In the past two weeks, I have encountered at least 10 children who could have a real future in improv. I would make them act out scenes on making introductions, or phone etiquette, or being a good host. They always took it to the next level of awesomeness that would send the group into appreciative giggles. Then one of the "actors" would stop in all seriousness and ask a really thoughtful "what if" question about etiquette. I'm truly impressed.
5) Kids are proud of learning the right thing to do. When they had to set the table from memory, and succeeded with a formal place setting, they all stood a little taller and smiled.
I look forward to the next group of kids. I know I can expect the unexpected.