Class teaches Malibu children what some say is the lost art of manners

Boys & Girls Club of Malibu wrapped up their summer pilot program, Manners Matter, with a fun, luau themes celebration on Aug. 4. Photo Courtesy BGCM.

Are manners a lost art? Many people may think so, and many of us also enjoy being around well-mannered people. It’s never too early to start learning how to be polite to others. With this in mind, the Boys & Girls Club Malibu just completed its summer session that included a class called “Manners Matter.” The program was so successful, it will likely become a continuing offering at the community’s esteemed BGCM.

The idea to teach manners to youngsters came from a private donor and “friend of the club” who thought it was a worthwhile activity to fund. According to Kasey Earnest, executive director of BGCM, “We were given the opportunity to pilot the program at our club this summer to see how our kids, parents, teachers, and everyone would respond to it.” The response was overwhelmingly positive.

“We were excited. The program comes with a whole curriculum and format,” Earnest said. “We implemented it over our seven-week summer program. Our kids loved it, and our parents were very positive about it.” 

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Photo Courtesy BGCM.

The teachers involved also reported positive feedback on teaching manners.

The children aged from TK (transitional kindergarten) to fifth-graders who participated were able to learn and practice everyday etiquette. They learned the basics of etiquette from saying “please” and “thank you,” raising their hands to be called upon, sitting properly at a table, and putting a napkin on your lap. 

“Our team really presented the entire program through the notion of kindness and respect and how that works with manners,” Earnest said. She added she was pleasantly surprised by how much the students told her they thought it was fun. 

“They made it fun. They created games. They incentivized the kids throughout the program,” she said. Anytime the kids get to talk about how to be kind to one another in this elementary age, they respond really well to that. They want to know how to be good friends. There’s etiquette in everything we do. Whether it’s a virtual space or at a dinner table, there’s a way to interact with people to make them feel good, and you feel good. That’s what we’re trying to develop. And patience, respect, and sharing.”

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Boys & Girls Club of Malibu wrapped up their summer pilot program, Manners Matter, with a fun, luau themes celebration on Aug. 4. Photo Courtesy BGCM.

The pilot Manners Matter was so well received it will likely become a regular part of BCGM programming. “We believe it’s a great program fit,” Earnest said.

BGCM is currently exploring how to make the program available during the entire school year “and may be available to kids who are enrolled in the Boys and Girls Club and also kids who are not enrolled,” Earnest said. 

The Manners Matter program would also be adapted for older kids, sixth- to eighth-graders in middle school. The program for middle schoolers would be more age-appropriate and include etiquette with social media. Earnest has received requests from parents over the years for a program on how to navigate social media for preteens.

Over the course of the BGCM’s seven-week summer session held at Webster Elementary, about 75 kids participated in the weekly and sometimes biweekly classes. In learning about mealtime, the kids made place settings and decorated placemats. This culminated in a summer’s end luau party and awards celebration. Everyone in attendance wore leis and Hawaiian shirts. The Webster cafeteria was decorated Polynesian style for a feast including Dole Whip provided by Malibu Yogurt.

At the luau on the closing day of the program, a couple of kids got on a microphone and addressed what they got out of the classes. 

Fifth-grader Mia said, “Learning manners is important because everyone has learned something new. I think it’s important because everyone gets to learn new rules and stuff and lots of kids also have fun with it.” 

Second-grader Bodhi said, “Learning manners isn’t just about being kind at a table. It’s also being kind to other people.” 

Everyone applauded after the kids’ comments.

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Photo Courtesy BGCM.