Kids learn proper etiquette in class

Instructor says manners make community better
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Who says good manners are passé?

Etiquette instructor Karen Foley has the evidence to prove otherwise. Her two upcoming workshops on etiquette and life skills for kids are filled to capacity and she’s started a waiting list.

The city of Roseville’s Parks, Recreation and Libraries Department hosts the classes and may add another one if enough demand exists.

Foley is eager to share tips for proper manners for children — and adults — who won’t be able to take her class. She believes good manners show respect and concern for other people.

“Manners make a better community and teach you to be respectful of others,” Foley said. “I think it’s important.”

But people often get too busy or distracted in their daily lives to remember simple gestures of consideration.

“It’s something that is almost lost in our society,” Foley said.

During her class for children 6 to 12 years old, she talks about how to properly set a table, which includes keeping the plate two inches from the edge to ensure it doesn’t fall off. The knife should be kept inside the spoon because of its sharpness.

Kids learn how to serve food, to immediately place their napkin on their lap and to be gracious — for instance, to take a courtesy bite or show tact when something tastes bad.

They also learn about holding a door open for another person.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a girl or boy, a man or woman,” Foley said. “It’s a common courtesy.”

Manners are used to make people feel at ease and to show regard for yourself and others.

“Manners are basically the Golden Rule,” said Foley’s 10-year-old daughter, Allysa Foley.

Allysa has learned to be polite. She asks to be excused when she wants to leave the table after eating and she cleans up after herself. She acts proper when interacting with other people.

“I think it’s important because if I visited the president, I’d have to have really, really good manners,” Allysa said. “When talking to someone if you don’t respect them, they think, oh, you don’t respect me. That means you don’t want respect either.”

Her friend Devyn Lawrence, 10, has also learned good etiquette with the help of adults.

“I grew up looking at my parents and I got taught by them,” Devyn said.

Now she’s passing those lessons on to her two younger sisters.

“The biggest thing of all is modeling,” Foley said. “How do children know manners if they’re not taught?”

Foley teaches kids about the importance of replying when spoken to, respecting personal space, making a good first impression, writing thank you notes, interacting with elderly people and demonstrating phone etiquette.

“Good manners are our road map,” Foley said. “You can apply them to all situations and it’s a good way to live.”

Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.