Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tips for Smooth Transitions

We could all use help when it comes to transitions in the classroom I'm sure. Some students do great with them and others need some accommodations to be successful. I've rounded up my transition tips that I use in the classroom and am sharing them all with you today!

With my pre-schoolers I have several strategies that we use to aid with transitions. Some students transition just fine with our overall classroom routine for a transition, while others may need additional supports to make the transition. Here's a list of the transition techniques we use; maybe there are a few you can take back to your classroom!

#1. Verbal Warning with a Timer
          - This is our "routine for a transition" if you will. Before we are going to transition to the next part of our routine I will set a digital timer along with the verbal announcement, "When the timer beeps, we're cleaning up for greeting time." --Just for an example. This works for a majority of my students this year. I have one who shows a little level of concern once the timer is started. For him, I let him know how long I set the timer for. Not that I think he fully has an understanding of the concept of time, but it seems to help calm him to say, "You have five more minutes with trains" so he knows he can still play.

#2. Option to Ask for 1 More Minute
          - I know quite a few of our pre-school classrooms utilize this strategy with different students with a variety of needs. For children who melt down once the timer actually does beep, we use a visual card to help prompt them to ask for 1 more minute. This helps the child feel in control and help decrease the tantrums. After hand over hand prompts to exchange the card, students begin exchanging on their own or using their words to request one more minute. My suggestion is to initially allow them to request this frequently. Maybe up to 5 additional minutes if your schedule allows. Once the concept is understood you can work on setting that max in place. Maybe they can ask 2 more times and then they have to make the final transition.

#3. Individual Visual Schedule
             - For some students an individual visual schedule may be needed to help them make transitions. We have a full class schedule posted in the room, but if a student is struggling to transitions from one activity to the next, giving them their own schedule to follow may be of more help. This schedule only has a certain number of spaces available so I might minimize what pictures are included, and be sure to highlight the transitions that the child struggles with the most.

#4. First/Then Boards
         - These are actually one of my favorites! I love using first/then boards in the classroom. I have two set up with a small binder. Then inside the binder I actually took an extra PECS book page and put it in the rings. This makes it really quick and easy to flip through and change out what you need on the first/then board. This is also really great if you want to give the student the option to make a choice for their board. You can set up their available choices inside the book for them to choose from.

#5. Give a Choice
            - This one might sound so simple, but giving a choice can really work for some students. If they struggle to transition to snack, then prior to the transition I will ask them, "Would you like snack today? Yes, please or no thank you?". The transition could be an issue because they just don't want to have snack that day. Or pair a preferred with a un-preferred to have the child pick what you want them to do. If they want to avoid the bathroom, then give them the choice "bathroom now, or book first?" This choice forces them into choosing the book, which may be the next part of your daily routine. By saying bathroom now, I feel that you've just given them the option to delay going to the bathroom, but it is still going to come up again. Then later on you can use a first/then to do bathroom first followed by a preferred activity. :)

What are some of your favorite transition techniques that you use in your classroom? I'm always looking for new ideas!



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