15 Sep 2014
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Manners Matter in Minnetonka

Groveland Elementary second graders show off their etiquette skills at annual tea party.

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Second graders displayed their proper manners for parents and grandparents at the annual tea party hosted by Mrs. Lovelace’s class.

“When you get a job, you need to have good manners,” said second grader Viviana Gonzalez. 

“Viviana was excited about this,” said parent Irene Gonzalez.  “They’ve been talking about the tea party since the first day of school.”

“I tell the kids, good manners will take you far in life,” said teacher Sara Lovelace. 

Teaching in Minnetonka schools for 25 years, Lovelace noticed something.

“Families are so busy these days with sports and activities,” Lovelace said. “I saw less emphasis on manners and a lack of respect toward adults.” 

Seven years ago, she began incorporating manners into her curriculum.

“Kids are not born with manners,” explained Lovelace. “Manners are learned.”

What have the children learned this year?

“Don’t put your elbows on the table,” said Chloe Rieger. 

“Be respectful to others,” said Dante Hudson.

“Put your napkin on your lap,” added Darby O’Connor, wearing a pink party dress. Lovelace instructed students to wear their Sunday best.

The tea party was hosted at St. Luke Presbyterian Church in Minnetonka.

The three-course tea party included pastries, finger sandwiches and dessert donated by area businesses. 

Food was served by student volunteers from Pauline Patrick’s psychology class. 

Parents loaned their good china and silverware for the occasion. A Minnetonka High School quartet provided instrumental music. Each child read a poem they had written for their guests. 

Parents say they notice better manners at home. 

“He opens the door for me,” said Kris Larson, mother of second grader Royal, who was decked out in a suit coat and bow-tie for the party. 

“He always says ‘thank you ‘ to me,” added Royal’s grandmother Susan Larson. 

His grandfather Dick Lyman added, “Manners are important at any age.”

“Darby uses please and thank you,” said parent Jen O’Connor. 

“In Mrs. Lovelace’s class you get the three Ms: magic, memories and manners,” said parent Lori Carver. “Teaching manners helps them to become better citizens of the community.”

Sometimes kids even correct their parents for manners violations. 

“Claire will say ‘Mom, no elbows on the table,’” said Carver.

How can parents reinforce good manners at home? 

“Try to have family meals together,” said Lovelace. “That’s a great opportunity to teach manners.”

“In our house, interruptions are the biggest issue," said Jen O'Connor. "We tell the kids to wait their turn, and we have to practice what we preach.”

Lovelace and her students role play in class in order to learn the rules of etiquette. 

They also practice communication skills by answering the telephone when it rings in the classroom. “They say ‘Mrs. Lovelace’s room, how may I help you?’” said Lovelace. “If I’m busy, they’ll say, “She is teaching. May I take a message?’”

They use their skills in the lunchroom as well.

“The lunch staff tells me that they’re impressed by my kids’ manners,” said Lovelace.

“When I go through the lunch line, I smile at the servers and that makes them happy,” said Claire Carver.

“I tell my students, what is the one thing you can give every day that won’t cost you anything?” said Lovelace. “A smile.”

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