Basic Etiquette Rules for School Kids

by Molly Thompson

    The word "etiquette" might evoke images of white gloves, fancy table settings and engraved calling cards, but it does have a modern-day translation appropriate for the classroom. School kids should be required to follow basic rules about courtesy and kindness, along with showing respect for their teachers, school staff and each other. Etiquette for school kids falls under the "works and plays well with others" heading, and includes doing what they're told, treating each other with decency and civility, and remembering that they're all part of a larger whole, with each part having value and worth.

    Follow School Rules

    Just as parents might have a list of basic rules for kids at home, most teachers post a list of rules they expect students to observe in the classroom. Young students might be required to stand quietly in line, raise their hands if they have questions, sit up straight in their chairs, and put their papers and pencils in their desks at the end of the day. Typically, teachers expect older kids to turn in homework when it is due, return library books on time, bring their sneakers and shorts on gym day and not cheat on tests.

    Be Respectful

    Showing respect for others, whether adults or peers, is usually a key component of grade school character education programs. Kids can show respect at school by raising their hands, not speaking out of turn, and listening attentively to their teachers. They should also be required to refrain from interrupting classmates or making fun of someone who is struggling with an activity or gives a wrong answer. Being respectful at school also involves some of the same elements it does at home: hold doors for others, help a friend gather his spilled book bag contents and don't take books or items that don't belong to you.

    Be Kind to Others

    Each school-age student needs to understand that, no matter how things are at home, at school life does not revolve about him. Younger students might have trouble with this concept, so it is essential that teachers require kids to observe basic etiquette rules for how to treat peers: be kind, don't make fun of people, don't push or shove a classmate on the playground and make newcomers feel welcome. These are core rules of classroom etiquette that students of all ages should follow. For older kids, these rules extend to avoid cliques, respect school property and use common courtesies with peers and adults.

    Safety First

    Safety-related rules are paramount in most schools, and, while these may not fit neatly under the "etiquette" category, following them is essential. Even young children need to understand that safety rules at school are not optional and that there are consequences for not following them. Early elementary students should keep shoes tied, follow playground rules so no one gets hurt, and pay attention during safety drills. Older students need to use safety glasses in chemistry class, clean up their messes, and help injured or handicapped classmates in an emergency.

    About the Author

    Molly Thompson has been writing for classified U.S. government presentations and publications since 1980. She holds B.A. degrees in psychology and political science from Wellesley College, as well as an M.A. in Russian area studies from Georgetown University. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis/research company and is also a professional genealogist.

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