Whether you are teaching an elementary Spanish class or passing on Spanish to your children, it is important to teach children good manners. We all teach kids to say gracias and por favor, but there are culturally appropriate behaviors that children need to know.
These five behaviors are considered good manners throughout Latin America. Of course, these are good manners in the U.S too, but they not given as much attention because the opposite behavior is not considered particularly rude. In Spanish-speaking countries, however, the opposite behavior is negative and can change the impression people have of children (and adults!).
All of these good manners can be practiced by children regardless of language level.
Good Manners to Teach Kids Learning Spanish
- When you hand something to someone, put it directly into her hand. Do not toss things at people.
- Keep your feet on the floor. Do not put your feet on chairs.
- When you move away from a group of people or leave a room, say con permiso. Do not just walk away.
- If someone sneezes, say salud. If you sneeze and someone says salud, say gracias.
- When you arrive, greet everyone. When you leave, say goodbye to everyone. In both cases, maintain eye contact and smile.
There are lots of resources for teaching children good manners in Spanish. Many polite behaviors also involve language. Here you will find resources for teaching polite expressions, including books and a song. There are also YouTube videos that teach polite behavior. DisneyJuniorLA has a cute series of very short videos called ¿Educamos el cocodrilo? You can see an example about manners in class here and there are others available too.
In my experience, kids are interested in what is considered polite behavior in different cultures, and they want to learn to act appropriately. We work hard teaching them to use Spanish. It is important that they also know how to interact so that others are comfortable and they can make the most of the language they have learned.