If you want to snap your kids out of summer’s wild ways and back into a new & nicer mindset, an etiquette class is just what Miss Manners ordered. While it sounds like something for 1950s debutantes, good etiquette isn’t just about knowing which fork to use. It’s also about knowing how to talk to people, exude confidence and make friends. So get those elbows off the table and check out these three spots where your kids can up their politeness quotient and have fun doing it.
Beverly Hills Manners
Those who want to learn their manners in LA’s ritziest zip code can turn to Beverly Hills Manners, where nationally recognized etiquette guru Lisa Gaché instructs kids on everything from proper poise and posture to basic grooming skills and conversation prowess. Gaché knows her stuff; she has taught everyone from Oscar nominees to pro football players, and is the author of an etiquette book.
Her “Modern Manners for Today’s Kids” class is geared for kids ages 6-12 and is held on select Saturdays at Bedford & Burns restaurant in Beverly Hills. To get little ladies and gentlemen in the mood, proper party attire is required (no jeans, sweats, or flip-flops) and kids will practice their dining and conversation skills with a three-course meal.
Gaché also offers a “Party Manners” course to teach kids, among other things, proper gift-giving and receiving etiquette (handy for those kiddos who tend to rip through every gift just to get to the next one); and a “Mitzvah Manners” course for kids prepping for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah. For those who would rather learn their Ps and Qs in private, in-home lessons or group workshops can be arranged.
Cost: $150 for a 2-hour class; $495 for the “Let’s Dance Cotillion Series” (includes five classes and a formal, five-course meal at the Beverly Wilshire); $250 for private sessions.
Courteous and Cool
South Bay peeps in need of politeness polishing can learn a thing or two from certified etiquette expert Kari Doody, who runs manners classes for kids out of her Hermosa Beach home (she also offers adult and corporate workshops). Got little kids who want to learn their niceties? Doody’s “Proud 2 Be Polite” class is designed for kids ages 4-6 and teaches everything from proper place settings and how to hold silverware to how to shake hands, maintain eye contact and make conversation. To keep tots entertained, she hands out coloring worksheets, engages kids in role-playing exercises, shows short movies, and gives a lighthearted “lecture” wherein she explains the importance of proper body language when meeting new friends. (Hint: Don’t look down.) The class ends with a three-course meal during which kids can practice their newfound skills. If all guests have been good, kids will get a special prize upon leaving. Just don’t forget to say, “Thank you!”
Bigger kids who have mastered basics (7-12 year-olds) can enroll in the “Confidence is Cool” series, a three-week course that uses interactive games and lectures to teach good behavior, confident body language, proper dining etiquette, proper handshakes and first impressions.
Speaking of dining—if that’s your only (OK, or main) issue, there’s a “Dining 101 class” for kids ages 7-12 that focuses specifically on proper mealtime behavior. Kids will learn how to “deal with problem foods” (learning not to say “Yuck” and what to say instead!) and the art of table conversation.
Other programs include a holiday etiquette class around the December holidays, a “Princess Manners Tea Party” for little girls who want to learn how to sip tea like Sofia the First and a cotillion class for aspiring debs.
Cost: $90 for two-hour “Proud 2 Be Polite” workshop; $190 for three “Confidence is Cool” classes; $75 for “Dining 101.”
Socially Confident Kids
With the invention of social media and smart phones, etiquette schooling has come a long way from the days of old-fashioned “charm schools,” but the content hasn’t really changed all that much. Dianeh O’Farrill’s weekly classes teach etiquette’s golden rules (including the importance of good table manners, proper body language, good posture and speaking and listening skills) and also includes proper phone and texting manners.
Dianeh is also an elementary school teacher with a masters degree in education, so she adjusts her classes based on the ages of the kids involved and uses interactive games, worksheets, role-playing exercises and physical demonstrations to keep kids interested. And don’t worry about hungry bellies: kids will (politely) feast on waffle and cereal.
The Etiquette and Social Skills Workshop is offered every Saturday through the Beverly Hills Parks and Recreation Department and designed for kids ages 6-12. Private classes are also available.
Cost: $150 and up for private lessons; $98 for group lessons (includes breakfast).
What’s your main manner complaint? (We vote for the ever present iphone for big kids, and just saying “please” for littles…) Let us know in the comment section!