The Quick Quiet: 4 Ways to Get Kids Listening!

Every teacher or Children’s Ministry leader needs a few “quick quiet” tricks to help tame an unruly class.  Here are a few methods that you should keep readily at hand.   Of course, you will need to explain these procedures with your class and practice them a few times before implementing them.

Please note, do not ever try to talk OVER students’ voices (as tempting as that is!).  It will only add to the chaos and raise your blood pressure.  Instead, try a few of these methods to quickly and quietly bring a class to order.

Trick #1: Quiet Arms

For this method, you will raise your left arm up high and place your right index finger over your mouth in a “Shh!” sign. Children are to copy your behavior, sitting forward in their chairs or places.  Even kids who are turned around or not looking at you will see the movement of the other kids and quickly snap to order. The motivation behind this method is peer pressure. If you can get about half the class to readily comply, the rest will follow suit, feeling the pressure from their peers.

Trick #2: Quiet Sign

This ultra simple method works based on novelty, so be sure not to over-use it. Make a bright or colorful sign with the words “Quiet” or “Too Loud” on it. Glue the sign to a paint stir stick.  Whenever the noise level grows too loud, hold up the sign for all the kids see. Don’t remind or try to talk over the noise. Simple wait until the roar has simmered down and proceed with teaching.

Trick #3: Talk-O-Meter

This method is best used for the younger ages who are still eager to please and have not yet mastered the art of ignoring. One way to use this type of chart is as a directional tool, telling students what is currently expected of them (quiet voices, silent work, etc). Another way to design the chart is to reflect the current situation of the class noise (just right, too loud, getting too loud, etc). Many teachers make a poster to look like a traffic light since students can easily relate to the stop and go symbolism. You can also make a new talk-o-meter with each unit to coordinate with the theme.  You can get free templates and further instructions at Really Good Stuff and Teachers Pay Teachers.

Trick #4: If You Can Hear Me…

I picked up this tricked when I worked at a summer day camp and am always amazed at how well it works with kids. When the noise level has risen to unacceptable heights, simple begin this chant:

If you can hear me, clap once {clap}
If you can hear me, clap twice {clap} {clap}
If you can hear me, clap three times {clap} {clap} {clap}

Continue in this way until all students are quiet and everyone is clapping. When you first begin, only a few students will hear you and clap along.  However, their clapping will draw attention from their friends and soon everyone will be tuning in to see what all the commotion is about. Once all the students are quiet, launch right back into your lesson without delay.

What About You?

Do you have a tried and true trick or technique that you use to regain the kids attention?  

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Lindsey Whitney
Lindsey Whitney is a home day care provider, Children's Ministry director and blogger over at Growing Kids Ministry. She lives with her husband, Mike, and their two children in Erie, PA.