When I ask a group of children why manners matter, a reply I typically get is “so people like you.” They are referring to friends and potential friends, but let them know that manners really count with adults, especially their teachers. Explain that if he makes a first good impression on his teacher, it will carry a long way. I tell students that if a teacher likes him, then he will see the benefits in all areas of school. If his teacher likes him right away, his school year will be a lot smoother.
How to make a good first impression? Explain that as humans we unfortunately judge a book by his cover, so this means dress respectably, for at least the first day and/or week of school. I force my children to wear khaki shorts and a collared shirt the first day of school, and try to get them to wear that at least every other day. I am slowly losing the battle as they get older, but they all agreed to start off looking “nice” for school. Tell your student that combed hair and a neat overall appearance scores points too. A teacher’s (unintended) impression of a disheveled student could be that he is unorganized and may not do well academically.
Next, meet the teacher with your best manners. Role-play with your student on how to meet his teacher, no matter how old he is. Ask for a firm handshake, good eye contact, and an articulate voice. This is screaming “good kid” to any adult.
Remind your student to throughout the year answer with “yes mam” or “yes sir,” and to have a positive tone of voice. Saying the right words with the wrong tone is a deal killer.