In the South we may lovingly refer to our toddlers and tykes as “angels,” “sweethearts” and “little dears,” but if we’re truly being honest most mommas would have to admit that there are certain times when these descriptions aren’t exactly accurate. I love my kids to the moon and back, but I’ve been guilty of bribing good manners from them as we sat down to family dinners at my parents’ or my in-laws’ house. With the holidays approaching, you may be rehearsing similar bribes in your head in preparation for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah parties.
Allow me to introduce you to a far better alternative than just rolling the dice on etiquette and table manners. Just as a spoonful of sugar makes medicine go down more easily, A Spoonful of Sugar classes make these ever-so-important life-skills fun and easy for kids to grasp.
A Spoonful of Sugar, located at 145 West Harrison Ave. in Lakeview, has only been open since mid-2015, but its owner, Betty Rabe, has made etiquette her focus for far longer than that. In ’09, she became certified through the Emily Post Institute, whose program serves as the foundation for the classes and workshops offered at A Spoonful of Sugar. When you first enter, you’ll notice that the cheery yellow walls and crisp white trim create a bright, welcoming environment.
Manners and etiquette may have a reputation for being fancy and formal, but Rabe is out to change that stereotype. Her mantra is that manners are for everyday life and everyday situations, not just for when children have on their fancy clothes. Her belief is that children actually feel more at ease when they know what to do in any given situation. Good manners help them know what is expected of them, which helps them, as well as those around them, feel comfortable.
The location provides the perfect backdrop for the monthly teas that A Spoonful of Sugar hosts. These are typically on Saturdays, reflect a theme of the season and are perfect for multiple-generation gatherings.
Signing up for the teas is as easy as signing up for any of the classes, and flexibility is the keyword. You can sign up individually or enlist a group of friends and sign up together. The first class is titled “Why Manners?” and addresses the fundamental characteristics of respect and consideration.
101s and Beyond
Other classes include “Table Manners” for the younger set (ages 4-6) and “Table Manners 101,” which teaches older children the skills needed to successfully navigate restaurant and in-home dining. “Table Manners 101” also includes tips and fun tricks to help the children remember which side of the plate the knife goes on and which water glass belongs to them. After graduating from “Table Manners 101” participants can sign up for “Table Manners: Practice in Action,” where the class actually dines together in a restaurant and polishes skills like making eye contact and ordering from a menu with a waiter or waitress.
Since manners don’t end at the table, Rabe also offers workshops such as “Communications 101,” “The Art of Friendship” and “Techno Manners,” which tackle skills such as thank-you note writing, coping with difficult situations with a friend and interacting in an appropriate way in the world of social media.
She also offers a workshop titled “Charmed Girl: Starting Middle School” to help give girls confidence and tips for a smooth transition into this new phase. In case you’re thinking, “What about the boys?” Rabe caters to them as well with fun cooking classes where manners and dining dos and don’ts are cleverly slipped into the cooking curriculum.
When Rabe and her team aren’t hosting classes or events in their Lakeview headquarters, they can be found out in the community, in schools or working with scouting troops teaching a course called “Veggecation,” a national program developed by a nutritionist that offers cooking classes featuring delicious and nutritious fresh foods. The program is fun and encourages healthy eating habits at the same time.
Getting In Touch
Betty Rabe believes that manners are much more than knowing which fork is correct; they give children confidence because the children know they have the skills they need when the situation presents itself. To read more about Betty Rabe and A Spoonful of Sugar, visit SpoonfulNola.com, which also has a current calendar and detailed description of all classes, workshops, teas and parties offered.