Mind Your Manners

How will your homeschooled children act this holiday season when your relatives are seated around the table expecting a lovely time of good food and conversation? Will they talk with their mouths full and reach for items without asking for them to be passed? You don't have to give up visiting your relatives or having them over for a meal because your children do not know how to eat properly at the table. Brush up your child's table manners with these common rules:
  • When entering the room, wait for your hostess to tell you where she wants you to sit. (Boys should remain standing until the hostess is seated.)
  • Eat with your silverware and not with your fingers. Don't use your fingers as pushers - use a crust of bread or your knife against your fork to capture wandering food on your plate.
  • Chew with your mouth closed and no burping or slurping.
  • Don't complain or be rude about the food and say thank you when being served.
  • If the food is not served buffet style, wait for everyone to be served before eating.
  • Knives and forks should be placed across the side of your plate after using them instead of laying them back on the tablecloth.
  • Keep your elbows in when you are eating so you don't bother the person next to you and don't put them on the table. Sit up straight and don't rock back on your chair.
  • Don't reach for food - ask for serving dishes to be passed and pass the food left to right (counterclockwise) after you have served yourself.
  • Remember, it is impolite to leave uneaten food. Take all you want, but remember to eat all you take.
  • Keep your napkin on your lap the entire meal unless wiping your mouth. If you need to blow your nose, don't use your napkin and excuse yourself from the table. When the meal is over, place your napkin loosely folded next to your plate.
  • Always express appreciation to the host and/or hostess by saying "thank you."
  • Do not discuss subjects revolting to any of the senses or that will cause arguments. Discuss topics that would be of interest to your host and hostess. Talk with a quiet voice without interrupting others when they are speaking.
Having well-mannered children at your table or your extended family's table begins with consistent correction from a young age. Most parents balk and throw up their hands at teaching toddlers to sit and eat properly at the table, but young children can learn to hold a spoon, drink from a cup, say please and thank you, and not throw their food. As your child grows older, etiquette lessons incorporated into your homeschool curriculum will reinforce the habit of good table manners. Proper mealtime etiquette, like good grammar, is a skill that will never go out of style. When done properly, your mealtimes will provide an environment for all your family to be blessed.

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