Tom and I thought we had done a pretty good job of raising kids with good manners. Mary and James knew when and where to say "please" and "thank you". They didn't spit on the floor, or wipe their noses on their sleeves. We felt comfortable taking them out in public, until they were in elementary school.
When the kids were in first and fourth grades, while on vacation, we went to a nicer restaurant, nicer than Golden Corral, but not quite the Ritz. I wish I had a picture of the puzzlement on their faces when they saw table settings with more than knife, fork, spoon, plate and glass. They didn't know where to start. It looked like we were ready for Deportment 101.
First, even preschoolers can learn table manners. While helping out when my sister had surgery, I taught her 3, 4 and 6 year olds how to set and clear the table. We also worked on keeping napkins in laps, and elbows off the table. By elementary school, James and Mary were already well-versed in basic table manners.
James and Mary are grown now and have ample opportunities to employ table etiquette in formal settings. A few things I figured out while teaching them and their cousins. * Children have to be taught good manners, and routinely observe them. * You can start teaching children as young as two or three years old the basics of table manners. * Etiquette gives a person confidence in many settings, not just a formal meal.
I'm linking this post with Giving Up on Perfect.
Luke 24:30 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
30 Joining them at the supper table, Jesus took some bread and gave thanks. Then he broke some off and gave it to them.