How to start Quiet Time in the classroom

How to start Quiet Time in the classroom

How to start Quiet Time from Responsive Classroom at your elementary school!

The school day can be fast-paced, chaotic, and, well, loud. Many students do not react well to chaos or feeling overwhelmed, and need a bit of downtime to get themselves refocused, recharged, and ready to learn. The perfect way to do this? Start Quiet Time once a day in your classroom

Before I began Quiet Time in my own third-grade classroom, my students would come in loud, disruptive, and chaotic after specials. It was hard to get my students settled down, and it was a stressful time for the students. I knew that I needed something that would create an expected calm before the rest of the busy afternoon full of learning.

Below, I will discuss what Quiet Time is and how you can start it in your classroom!

What is Quiet Time?

Quiet Time is a built-in downtime each day in the classroom that is 100% student directed. Many teachers already do this under various names - whether a "cool-down time" after a busy recess or "educational recess" after a difficult math lesson. Students get a choice during Quiet Time, it is a period during the day that is unstructured and allows for student choice.

Just like the name, Quiet Time is a completely silent time. This means no talking to one another, or even to the teacher! Quiet Time is NOT a time to interact for students to interact one another. Some students want to draw silently together, but I believe that this time needs to be purely for themselves. Even if students are not talking, I think it can be hard to get focused and redirected when you're somehow interacting and communicating (even if not speaking!) with someone else. To fully recharge, you need to focus on yourself.

What are students choices during Quiet Time?

How to start Quiet Time in your classroom!
I allow my students to read, write, draw, or relax during Quiet Time. But you know what? Students do not have to do ANYTHING! They can simply put their heads down if they would like to. This is a time that is all about them.

With so many standards to teach, kids rarely get to have choices that are artistic. With Quiet Time, most of my students choose to color or cut out shapes/headdresses with paper.

When does Quiet Time happen during the school day?

It is 100% up to you! Some teachers do this after recess, lunch, or specials. Personally, I always do it after specials. The kids know to come in silently and do their Quiet Time activity of their choice.

How long does Quiet Time last?

Quiet Time can last anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. I personally always do fifteen minutes in my classroom. YES, this is a lot of time during the day. But I think that the benefits outweigh the cost of time. My students are ready to learn after they get their "me time." I am saving valuable instruction time instead of having to constantly refocus students during a lesson.

If I notice that my students are taking a long time cleaning up after Quiet Time, I take away Quiet Time minutes for individuals the next day. You'd be surprised at how quickly they put their materials away when they are afraid of their personal time being decreased!

Is Quiet Time a waste of time?

No! My students used to dawdle after recess/lunch/specials... now, they come in quickly to the classroom because they LOVE Quiet Time. They want to get to work on their dinosaur drawing, or find out what happens in the next chapter of their book. Students will not miss instructional time if they are taking way too long at the water fountain- they are missing their free choice time! It is funny how much quicker that simple tasks can suddenly take when students do not want to miss out on their personal time and activities.

What does the teacher do during Quiet Time?

This is Quiet Time- you do you! The students are recharging, but this is also a time for the teacher to recharge. Since Quiet Time is about each individual, this it a no-guilt time! I take this time to check my texts, peek at the news, pick up my desk, or get a few items together for an upcoming lesson.

Can I use interactive modeling to start Quiet Time?

As I do with all procedures and routines in my classroom, we sit down as a group and create an anchor chart. What does Quiet Time look like? What does it sound like? We discuss how we must have a Level 0 voice, meaning no talking. They need to be calm and focused, stay at their seat, and share with others. We also practice it. In the beginning, we do Quiet Time for three minutes. Then four minutes. Then five minutes. We build our stamina to make sure that we are able to do Quiet Time correctly.

Even if you have already started school, it is not too late to put Quiet Time into your routine! This is something that can be introduced all year long when you think that your students are ready.

What are other Responsive Classroom strategies?

Responsive Classroom is an educational approach that connects social & emotional learning, engaging academics, a positive community, effective management, and developmentally responsive teaching. It strives to create communities full of significance, belonging, and inclusion. It completely changed my teaching. I highly recommend taking a course if it is offered by your district, or checking out the books from your professional library.

I have blog posts on some of the elements of RC in the classroom if you would like to check them out!

What are other Responsive Classroom resources?

There are TONS of books to familiarize yourself with Responsive Classroom, morning meeting, closing circle, and quiet time. I linked some below (these are Amazon Affiliate links, so I earn a small amount if you click the link and purchase one. This money goes toward keeping up the website!)


What do you think? Do you do Quiet Time in your classroom, or some form of it? Tell me all about it below in the comments!

How to start Quiet Time in your classroom!


  1. I LOVE quiet time! I love your anchor chart, too! That's a great idea! Quiet time today was not quiet so I'm borrowing your anchor chart idea tomorrow! Thank you!

  2. I love this!! I always have such a hard time getting my students to be quiet!! I am going to try some of these and see what happens!! I love how you make a list and the students know what quiet time looks like!! Thanks again!!