Primary school students have a tendency to be very active, curious and noisy, which makes the teacher’s job a real challenge. Just how does one get control of the class and still maintain the children’s interest? The following article deals with mistakes teachers make and helpful strategies you can use to quiet down a primary class.
Too often, teachers make the mistake of waiting until students are in the room, seated and finally quiet before attempting to start class. This, however, lets the students decide when the teacher can teach. If you are making this mistake, do something unexpected to get their attention. Once you have their attention, continue to resume your rightful position as class leader. This means you are the one who actually decides when class starts and what you will accomplish for the day.
Use silence – In too many classrooms, students are out of control before the first bell rings. What is the normal reaction of many teachers? They clap their hands for attention or try to talk loud enough to be heard over the noise. This is, in effect, reacting to a situation the students have created and does little more than feed their excitement. Instead, stand in silence at the front of the room while making eye contact with each student one at a time. Don’t appear frustrated; rather, stay calm and cool and glance at your watch now and then. Don’t say a word until silence reigns. When it does, begin your first class activity.
Use curiosity – Bring an unusual or interesting object (or an illustration of one) to class and place it where can be easily seen. When questions begin to fly – What is that? What does it do? Where did you get it? – promise to answer once everyone is seated and ready for class. Healthy curiosity can go a long way in giving you the “edge” when you lead a class of primary school students. For some fun curiosity examples, check out Patently Absurd. Follow through with just enough information to whet their appetites, and then promise to have a question and answer period late in the day. You’ve now given them a good incentive to cooperate.
Use the board – Put something interesting up on the chalkboard before students arrive. No matter what age they are, tweak their curiosity by posting things that encourage them to think or be inspired. Keep an eye out for interesting quotes, current events, Guinness world records and interesting lists – like the top ten cities in the world with the most people (or skyscrapers or cats or whatever). In other words, you want something up on that board that your class doesn’t already know. Be the one teacher they’ll always remember for teaching them fun and interesting facts.
Use sign language – Whether your students are familiar with sign language or not, you can teach them how to read and “say” a few words without ever speaking. In order to be successful, you’ll need to learn a few basic signs, found online with demonstrations on how to sign them. After you learn a few basics, like “welcome to class,” and “let’s begin,” use them at the beginning of class each day until students can also sign them. Add new words every week while reinforcing the ones they’ve already learned. For example, if you are studying George Washington, learn how to sign “Father of our Country,” or “First president.” Then, instead of saying those words during the lesson, sign them. This strategy not only keeps your students’ interest, it also teaches them a new skill.
Use great books – As your students become more and more cooperative and quiet, reward them by reading aloud from a really good book. Depending on their ages, titles will vary, but you can find a list of popular books online. Younger students will enjoy the first book in the Box Car Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warren. You want to read just enough to give them a treat but stop before they get restless. Each day, they will learn that being attentive and cooperative in class means you’ll read aloud to them again!
There are many strategies to quiet down a primary school class. Try some of those listed in the preceding paragraphs, and you’ll find you can accomplish more in class when students arrive ready to listen and learn. A teacher who is calm and creative in controlling the classroom soon earns the respect of the students. They will also remember you as one of their favorite teachers!