Proper etiquette could be saving grace for Ponoka kids at the supper table

By Dale Cory

“You say, ‘Thank you very much. That was a great supper.’”

Young Hailey Clark was confident of the correct response when asked how to express her thoughts after the meal was done.

It brought a smile to the faces of Deanna Bloomquist and Christy Clarke, and provided proof they are very much on the right track with their new business venture — Saving Grace Etiquette training.

The two Ponoka mothers are holding after-school classes at Ponoka Elementary School for youth six to 12 years of age.

“We went to a business seminar and got on topic regarding the lost art of ‘where are all the manners.’ We did some research into etiquette training and discovered there was a company out there that trained you to be with children to do etiquette training. We got our certification, and here we are,” explained Bloomquist. “I wasn’t taught etiquette training at home. It really is a lost art. Some people are still passing that along to their children, but some people don’t know the rules or have never been taught themselves.”

At the Nov. 23 class, the focus was on proper table manners.

“You shouldn’t scarf down food. And you shouldn’t reach across the table to get something,” says Michael Bloomquist, a nine-year-old Grade 4 student who has been gathering loads of information during the etiquette sessions. “You don’t eat all of the same food at one time, you should always be at your best behavior when you attend a friend’s birthday party. And, you should always be nice to people you don’t know.”

According to Bloomquist and Clarke, the kids they have in class are learning etiquette at a rapid pace, and are excited to learn.

“I’ve learned how to hold my utensils, and I’ve been learning how to break bread,” said Harrison Clarke, a nine-year-old in Grade 4. “We learned ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and the proper way to say ‘no.’”

It was quite obvious Hailey Clarke has debunked the lost art theory.

“We’ve been going some games, and we’ve learned how to open a present, and about table manners,” said Clarke.”

And why is that important?

“Because it’s good manners and you don’t look embarrassed when you do things,” added Clarke. “We learned that you shouldn’t be all crazy at the table. We’ve learned how to remember other people’s names”

And how do you do that?

“We say their name three times,” replied Clarke.

Proper etiquette can be used in many areas.

“We’ve focus on proper manners, and proper introductions at a party,” says Christy Clarke, who will have students at three more classes during this session. “We will be focusing on communication, how to answer the telephone properly, and bullying, a topic we would like to touch more on in the future. We can be certified in that as well, and would like to go in that direction.”

Bloomquist and Clark are adamant the skills they are providing will last a lifetime for these young kids.

“It is something we need to as a society be passing on to our children, and our young adults. It helps them when they get into business situations, or college applications,” insists Bloomquist. “One of the examples we’ve seen is — when you get to a job interview, and there are two of you at a sit down meal — if you don’t have proper table manners, all of a sudden your first impression isn’t looking so good. It’s something that carries forward into later life too. You get the basics now and it comes easier as you get older. You need to have your manners.”

For further information, please check out: www.savingetiquette.com

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For the record, Saving Grace Etiquette Training has provided a list of the basic table manners people young and old should adhere to:

• Wash your hands and face before sitting down to the table.

• Sit down in your proper seat and put your napkin in your lap.

• Wait to begin eating until everyone is seated and has been served. Many families wait until an adult gives permission to start eating.

• Stay seated in your seat without wiggling in your chair, going under the table, or getting up and down.

• Say, “Excuse me,” and ask permission to leave the table.

• Elbows do not belong on the table.

• Mouths should stay closed while chewing and pieces should be bite sized.

• “May I please” and “Thank you” should be used when children would like food and never reach across the table.

• Participate in the conversation during dinner and no interruptions when other people are talking.

• Slurping, burping, squealing, singing, humming are all sounds that are not to be made at the table.

• It is never kind or polite to make negative comments about what is being served for dinner.

• Before getting up at the end of the meal say, “May I please be excused?”

• Ask if the adult or host would like you to clear your dinner plate.

• Thank the cook