The cafeteria is typically the loudest room in an elementary school. The lunch period offers students a chance to unwind, talk with their friends and share the events of the day. However, this freedom often leads to raucous laughing, yelling and misbehavior. Taking a few, simple steps will allow you to control the lunchroom while still giving your students the freedom to enjoy their lunch break.
Set rules to keep the lunchroom quiet and orderly and make sure that students understand the restrictions. Post the rules around the lunchroom, and give each student a copy of the list at the beginning of the school year. Ask classroom teachers to go over the rules with their students at the beginning of the year and other times as necessary. However, don't overload students with rules: Keep it simple.
To help keep students quiet in the lunchroom, play music while they eat. Classical music will help set a calm tone. Give students a special treat on Fridays and play some of their favorite songs.
Change the lunchroom schedule to reduce noise level and misbehavior. Crowded lunchrooms are typically loud and disorganized, especially if students must stand in long lines waiting for their food. Instead of crowding a large number of students into the cafeteria at once, schedule a few more lunch periods and reduce the number of students eating in the cafeteria at one time. With fewer students, the noise level will drop, the lunchroom will feel more organized and teachers and aides will have more control.
Signals and Consequences
Use signals to keep the noise level in check. Ask teachers and lunch aides to use hand signals to let students know when they are too noisy. Raising your hand or putting a finger to your lips will work. Teach students to stop talking and pay attention when a staff member gives the signal. Set consequences for bad lunchroom behavior, such as missed recess or silent lunch.
Use a reward system to encourage good behavior in the lunchroom. Hand out raffle tickets to quiet students, then award prizes at the end of each week for the winning tickets, recommends the website Education World. Give small prizes to the best-behaved student at each table, such as stickers, pencils or the opportunity to eat lunch with a teacher. Always praise students for good behavior.
Based in the southeastern United States, Annabelle Brown began writing in 2000. She specializes in health, nutrition, education and pets. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Virginia Tech and is pursuing a Master of Science in English from Radford University and a Master of Education at Wright State University.