teaching our kids table manners

We may not use proper etiquette at all times in our kitchen but I certainly wanted our kids to at least have some decent table manners to apply both in our home and when they are in others’ homes. We would talk about a couple things here and there with the kids but once we started homeschool I knew I wanted to do a more proper “lesson” as part of our home ec class.

We started our lesson/discussion by learning about setting the table properly. I printed out a place setting for reference as we discussed it. (we used the #4 template. it’s simple and that’s all we need) Then we learned about some of the table etiquette:

  • wait for everyone to receive their food – we talked in a little more detail about what this would look like in different settings such as at home, a friend’s house or out to eat somewhere. We also talked about how you would handle some of the food at a restaurant coming and some not having their food yet. Of course we also talked about the WHY behind we why we wait
  • include everyone in the conversation – we went through some topics that are inclusive as well as how to steer the conversation back to being an open conversation. Again, we talked about the WHY behind the importance of including everyone in the converstaion
  • be open to trying new things – this has always been a rule in our house. You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to finish it, but we encourage you to try it. With that all being said, we talked during his discussion about what that looks like when you are in someone else’s house. Using phrases like, “I’ll try a little please” or “no thank you, but I’m excited to eat this____” and name another dish they are serving. We also stressed the fact that if there is nothing you like there you just wait to come home to eat, you DO NOT ask them to make something that is not at the table.
  • no elbows on the table and have good posture – this had been discussed around the table before so we just touched more on the WHY behind it
  • always say please and thank you – this didn’t take long to discuss since they are already rockstars with this habit
  • put your fork down between bites – ok this is less manners and more just a healthier way to eat. I do think that it is polite too because you are less likely to inhale your food or talk with your mouth full amongst other reasons. We did talk about the health benefits of it as well: being able to take the time to listen to your body and know when it is time to stop eating or when to ask for more.
  • help with clean up – we talked about this being after a meal, after a church activity or following a party. Look for opportunities to help clean up and see it as a way to SHOW your gratitude to your host.
  • compliment the host – thank them for the meal, thank them for having you over. We also talked about when you have been served a meal that you maybe didn’t love. You can keep it simple with, “Thank you for having me over.” or, “Thank you for dinner” and just keep it at that but if there was something you loved at dinner then call it out! What host or hostess doesn’t love to hear that someone loved something they prepared?!
  • depart with gratitude – “Thank you for having me” or if you someone is coming over to pick up their child from our house, “Thank you for letting them come over and play.” At risk of sounding like a broken record, we also talked about the WHY behind it. Parents take their time out of their busy days to make sure we set up playdates and run kids around and we’re happy to do it, but it’s also nice to hear appreciation for it.

There were a handful of questions and topics that came up while we discussed but I didn’t write them down. We had fun with it though and gave different scenarios of situations they may find themselves in and how they could handle it. We also had fun acting out good posture, being proper and the opposites of both. The next morning we set up the table for a nice family breakfast (which seriously never happens…we’re usually a cold cereal family so the kids were thrilled) and the kids put their table setting abilities and table manners to the test.

I patterned this lesson after what I found HERE along with what I remember being ingrained in me growing up. 🙂 We have great, well mannered kids and it was fun to see them get into it even more following this lesson. I’m all about allowing kids to be kids, it is a HUGE reason why we started homeschool but I’m also very determined to have our children look very young what it looks like to have good manners and be polite and considerate of others. Discussions and lessons like this help us achieve that.


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