By Teachers, For Teachers
Children are energetic by nature, and when you get a lot of children together in one room, their energy can be infectious, which can ultimately lead to a classroom full of chaos. It can be quite challenging to use teaching strategies to then calm that group of rambunctious students. Even in the most structured classrooms, teachers can have a hard time finding teaching strategies that actually work to settle students down. The key to calming your students down and getting them back on track to learn is to create engaging tasks that they can look forward to. Here are a few teaching strategies that work.
Classroom yoga is one of teachers’ favorite go-to ways to calm down students. It’s my favorite strategy because it works, and works quickly. Yoga is a great way for students to calm down and relax. It’s also a great way for students to develop the skills that are needed to manage stress, as well as improve their concentration. The great thing about using this teaching strategy is that you can implement this effective practice at any time and it will still work! You can practice after lunch, recess, or any physical or highly energetic activity to help students relax. Start with having students get into the child’s pose. Students should sit on their feet with their knees separated. Then have them place their forehead in between their separated knees so that it touches the floor. Their arms should be extended out in front of them, and their palms should be facing down. As they hold this pose, have students breathe deeply in and out for about three minutes. Other calming poses are the sleeping beautiful pose, downward facing dog, and the tree pose. A healthy body and mind is essential for your overall well-being, and by practicing classroom yoga, you can help your students achieve that.
Another go-to suggestion to calm students down is to give them a brain break. While some brain breaks are meant to get students’ energy out, others are meant to calm students down. My favorite calming tool is called GoNoodle.com. This website is a great because it has both interactive energetic tools, as well as calming brain breaks. Some categories that they have are called rainbow breathe, find peace, and let it go. All of these few minute activities are meant to calm students down.
As a child, you may remember returning from lunch at school to a dim classroom where your teacher would have you sit on the floor as he or she read a few chapters from a book. The reason that teachers are still using this teaching strategy today is that it’s still an effective way to calm students down as it was back when you were a child. This peaceful, calm activity is something that will stay with your students for years to come. Just make sure that you are reading a book that is of interest to all students, not just some students. You can have students vote on book that you will read each week. This way, you know that all children will be engaged.
Writing your thoughts in a journal is a surefire way to calm your students down. If you notice children are getting antsy, then dim the lights, allow students to go anywhere in the classroom (as long as they find a spot that they are not near anyone), and have them free-write in their journals. To help from having students continually ask you what they should write about, have students bring in pictures in the beginning of the school year to glue onto the front of their journals. These pictures will serve as inspiration for their journal entries. You can also glue a list of writing prompts to the inside of their journals, in case they get stuck and don’t know what to write about. Writing seems to have a calming effect on children, so this activity will help them settle down within a matter of minutes.
Soft music, as well as classical music, is said to have a calming effect on the brain. If you have a few minutes to spare, then dim the lights and put on some Mozart. You can even allow students to doodle on some notepads while listening to the music. Research shows that doodling increases comprehension and focus. You can also give them a hard piece of candy to suck on while they listen and doodle, because candy like peppermint can help students maintain a sense of calm.
When you have 20 children enter your classroom all at the same time, you will have a classroom that is in utter chaos. Instead, have a few students at a time take turns getting a drink from the water foundation or their water bottles, or use the lavatory. Once they are finished, then have them enter the classroom. If you have five students at a time enter the classroom instead of 25, you will limit the amount of chaos that will be in your classroom.
Do you have any teaching strategies to help calm students down? Please feel free to share your ideas and expertise, we would love to hear what you do and what works in your classroom. Your idea may be just the idea that works for fellow teacher.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.