I have to let you all in on a neat little secret I discovered at our local homeschool conference this year. It's called the Etiquette Factory and it's a manners/etiquette program for small children all the way through teens. It's grouped in 3 sections. One for grades 1-4, the next for middle schoolers and then your teens. We've already been watching some of the videos and trying out some of the lessons. We won't officially dive in until school starts this year, but I already admire the founder (a mom...of coarse!). I met her and her (very polite!!!) son at our conference and I was hooked with the program after just a few short minutes.
One of the many reasons we chose to homeschool our children is the sheer fact that Home Economics (also called "Life Skills") is no longer taught in our school systems. When I was teaching middle school years ago, my principal came to me and asked if I could teach a Life Skills class for 6th-8th graders. I was handed some very outdated books and I had to teach the class in my English classroom...no ovens, no stoves, no life-sized baby dolls that were computer chipped and cried, no outdoor garden, no car garage or tools...zero, zilch, nada. All for the main reason that we were a small Christian school (just like a lot of other smaller schools) without a lot of funds for a program like this. There was so much I wanted to teach them, but so little I could actually do! I had just had my firstborn daughter and was already contemplating home educating. I think this class was the icing on the cake for me. How was I going to find time to teach my son(s) and daughter(s) the things they needed in life to be successful at running a home, caring for children, fixing vehicles, cooking, cleaning properly, fixing things, sewing, creating, baking, using power tools, growing food and having proper etiquette when they were spending all day under someone else's authority, leadership and time?
I'll be the first to admit that my kids don't have perfected table manners. They're still in training on how to greet someone properly, thanking a host for their hospitality, writing thank you cards, dressing right for a specific event, taking turns, being courteous, putting others above themselves and the list goes on. However my drive is huge to make sure they get this training and become the wonderful, courteous adults I know they will turn out to be someday.
That's why I love this program! It's something that many of our school systems either don't have the budget for, don't have the time to devote to teaching it and definitely don't tie it into Biblical character qualities. If you're on the hunt for something like this, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the program.
It comes with a CD of songs, a DVD of "Mrs. Manners" and full out lesson plans. I'll try to post more on it as we dig deeper and get more involved with the activities, crafts, songs and more. If you've ever tried this program, please let me know what you think of the program. I always enjoy others' feedback on curriculum choices, seeing what worked for their family.
So, here's to etiquette!