Every parent wants to equip their child with as many “tools” as possible to ensure their child reaches their own unique personal-best. Understanding traditional dining etiquette and the proper usage of a table setting is an example of a lifetime “tool.” Learning how to navigate an extensive table setting may be difficult if you haven’t been taught. What age is the “right” age to teach your child how to navigate a place setting? It depends.
A traditional “informal” place setting consists of two forks, a dinner knife and two spoons, several glasses, napkin and appropriate plates to support an informal three-course meal. However, few families’ tables today enjoy three course meals requiring five pieces of cutlery. Todays “informal” family-dinner place setting tends to be a simple setting consisting of a single fork, knife and spoon, a drinking glass, napkin and single dinner plate. With only one fork, children do not have to know traditional dining etiquette since there are no choices of utensils at their place setting.
The “right age” to teach a child how to navigate a formal table setting is going to depend on your family’s dining table, what type of restaurants your family attends with your children, and also whether your child attends formal events. If your family sets a traditional “informal” place setting or frequently dines where multi-course meals are served, you have the wonderful opportunity to begin to teach your children during these types of dining experiences.
However, if your family sets an “informal” family-dinner place setting with only 3 pieces of cutlery, you should consider exposing your child to a multi-course meal with a 4 or 5 piece setting to begin to teach them about the differences of each utensil. Since we all have opportunities to dine together (even if it’s just once a week at home or at a diner) I would suggest you serve and/or order dinner in at least two simple courses. The “first-course” could be sliced fruit or perhaps just the simple vegetable that you otherwise would have served on the dinner plate, using a salad fork. The “main-course” follows on a dinner plate, using the dinner fork, and place knife. This simple two-course meal may be enjoyed by even 3 year old! As a mom of 4 children ranging in ages 3-10, I also suggest involving your child by asking them to help you set the table so you can explain to them what each of the pieces of the place setting is for: “this is the fork we are going to use for the yummy fruit;” “this is the fork we are going to use for our mashed potatoes and chicken.” Even my 3 year old helps set our table – he is GREAT at setting out the napkins!
When I attended my professional training at the Etiquette and Leadership Institute to become a certified Etiquette Consultant for children and adults, they were intrigued at my business model: offering families a traditional Dance Academy specializing in ballet with a separate Manners School for children and adults to learn social skills, good manners and contemporary social and business etiquette. Then, for “color” and even more FUN, we added on-site, sophisticated and Classic Birthday Parties for children with unique themes, costumes, and quality activities. To complete this ambitious business model, the Boutique at Fleur de Lis was created so that our families (and anyone who has since learned of this “hidden secret”) could buy quality dance wear, gymnastics apparel, cheer attire and amazing gifts at a LOWER price than any other local dance store or on-line competitor.
My business mission was easy: Positively Enhancing Lives! All of my four businesses offer the highest quality programs at the most competitive rates- I firmly believe that the Academy families should enjoy a beautiful facility with professional and nurturing programs that is AFFORDABLE!
New for 2012, we are launching ENCHANTED – La Petite Dance & Manners Programs.
We invite you to experience ENCHANTED: a completely integrated ballet & manners program featuring two classes, Storybook Ballet and Magical Manners for children ages 2.5 – 6. This 1 ½ hour program is a wonderful complement to a child’s pre-school experience: we encourage families to enjoy an ENCHANTED Morning or ENCHANTED Afternoon as an alternative day activity to their pre-school schedule.
ENCHANTED offers children a Storybook Ballet class, Tiara Tea Party Snack, and a Magical Manners lessons from a professional dancer and nationally certified manners program.
ENCHANTED offers parent an affordable pre-school alternative that combines the fine art of Ballet and social skills of a Manners program.
I am a thrifty Midwesterner who shouldn’t and doesn’t really drink caffeine. Honestly, my friends would tell you that the world couldn’t handle me on caffeine… I am VERY energetic
Recently I was at the coffee shop with the Green Sign (can I even say the name?) I have been buried with computer work and needed some fresh air. I had seen an advertisement for a “salted caramel mocha drink” YUMMY! I decided to indulge. Arriving at the drive up window, I realized I had driven past the “order” kiosk and ended up directly at the window. A car was behind me so I couldn’t back up. There was a young teller who greeted me, and I began with, “I am so sorry… I didn’t mean to pass the order kiosk… May I please order here?” She giggled and started to say “yes” and a more mature teller spoke over her giggle and said, “No, there is someone behind you.” I felt terrible. My one indulgence and I was going to have to turn around against traffic, on a road under construction, and go into the store. I did. The mature teller avoided me and didn’t even try to converse or apologize.
So I ask you- is this a situation where good manners may have helped? Who had bad manners? Admittedly, I was wrong. I mistakenly passed the order kiosk. I began my conversation with “I’m sorry” and was sincere and apologetic- but my good manners were not reciprocated. What would you have done?
This fall we are excited to work with two prestigious private schools in Fairfield County: Wooster School and Christ & Holy Trinity Pre-School. The boys and girls (grades 1st– 5th) in Danbury at Wooster School have been learning key life skills and confidence building through our fun interactive curriculum in our 9 week Elementary Etiquette Program. Role playing exercises and worksheets have been used as fun and informative tools to give the students opportunities to learn and practice. The students have laughed while practicing introductions in costumes, smiled while learning how to escort and beamed with pride as they improved their personal introductions.
Down in Westport we developed a special course for the 3,4 & 5 year old pre-schoolers just in time for the holidays! This special Holiday Dining & Manners Program is an interactive based curriculum designed specifically for Christ & Holy Trinity Preschool to increase children’s awareness and self-confidence during holiday parties, family gatherings, at the seasons most festive events. Students learn through hands-on activities, role playing exercises and illustrated displays, all designed to reinforce the lessons and integrate social skills into their holiday home. These adorable children wil l be making edible “smile” treats, learning table Etiquette for Holiday Meals, and enjoying a Holiday Graduati on Celebration.
We always recommend that the school and families reinforce the lessons throughout the year.