I’ve reached an age that I realize I definitly need transition time to make a change. Perhaps I have always needed transitions but I only NOW realize that I need them. Maybe, it’s because I see some upcoming life changes. Whatever the reason, transitions seem to make my life easier lately. As a parent and teacher I know the importance of transitions to make life run smoothly. More than once I experienced my lack of planning causing disruptions. Those tantrums and unhappy faces could very well have been avoided with some good transition strategies.
Strategies to promoted self-regulation are necessary for a calm home and classroom. So, recently I dug into my toolkit of strategies to ward off grandchild disappointment and keep everyone smiling.
Transitions Made Easy
- Give Extra Time– Allow extra time to move to the next activity. Less rushing helps keep you remember the importance of transition.
- Set the Clock – Give time warnings of how much longer until we have to leave. I’ve found that using the timer on my phone is a great visual for kids. Seeing the countdown helps them have ownership to plan their final activities. Also, allowing kids to start the timer ensures that they are indeed listening to you. Be sure to include a few extra minutes of buffer time.
- Be An Accurate Timekeeper – Telling them 2 minutes more but giving them 10 minutes more, because they were quiet, teaches kids that 2 minutes is REALLY long. That is until the next time when you REALLY mean 2 minutes. IF you are ok with an extended time, try giving them a “few minutes more”. Only give them a specific time when YOU are ready. This simple tip will help them learn to self regulate their activities.
- Look Ahead – Think of possible transition bumps to minimize unplanned “great ideas”. IF you think they are going to ask for more time to play or a particular toy, prepare an answer before they ask.
- Share Next Steps – Share the next steps in your schedule and try to make it sound fun.
- Say It With Pictures – Especially for younger kids, show them a picture of the next steps. Draw your simple pictures on post its. Kids will love to play with them and they can be reused in the future.
- Give Choices – IF you have multiple things to do and the order can be varied, give them a choice of what they want to do first. Best to keep their choices simple, maybe 2 or 3 choices.
- Kids LIKE Schedules – They may say they don’t, but they do! Let them know in advance any planned activities to help them become more aware.
- Distract, Distract, Distract – Plan a list of things to do to distract BEFORE your child has an issue (e.g. a favorite toy, box of crayons). Sing, count, tell stories, whatever will keep their mind busy. You may also allow them to hold a special item. As a K-2 principal, I often allowed new kindergarten students to hold my “very special book” or “wear my Principal necklace”. Prior to the book or necklace idea, I had once used my keys to distract a nervous 5 year old. Two hours later, the kindergarten teacher was finally able to distract the child long enough to unclench his fingers from around my keys. It worked, but certainly, not my best idea. A little planning would have been helpful!
Not 100% guaranteed ideas but certainly worth a try.