How to Help Students Transition Between Activities

How to Help Students Transition Between ActivitiesHow to Help Students Transition Between Activities

Transition means change.  Many students can have difficulty moving from one activity to the next.  In early childhood classrooms, transitions from playtime to clean up time can be challenging.  For older students, moving from recess back to the classroom can be disruptive and hard to manage.  Whatever the age range or activities, here are some tips on how to help students transition between activities.

1.  FOLLOW A ROUTINE – Establish a consistent schedule or routine for the student to follow.  Provide visual picture symbols if necessary for the student to follow.

2.  MAKE SURE THERE IS ENOUGH TIME – Allow the student enough time to experience the activity before moving on to the next activity.  Many children can exhibit negative behaviors if they never had any time to participate in the activity to begin with.

3.  PROVIDE CLEAR AND CONCISE DIRECTIONS – Make sure the student understands what the directions are or what is expected of him/her.  Some students will need to be taught how to follow the routine.  This takes practice and time.  One or two step motor commands should be effective and concise.

4.  GIVE WARNINGS – Provide verbal and physical cues that a transition is approaching.  There are plenty of visual timers that can be used to provide warnings for transitions.

5.  DECREASE THE NUMBER OF TRANSITIONS – Modify schedules to have the least amount of transitions possible.  For example, if a student is already out of class to go to the nurse or another related service it may be a good time to schedule therapy to reduce the number of transitions in and out of the classroom.  Another option would be to provide push in therapy services to avoid transitioning in and out of the room.

Practical Strategies for Pediatric Therapists - Pushing Into the Classroom Webinar

6.  SING – Sing songs or chants to signal transitions.  Use the same songs each time so children can anticipate what is to happen next.

7.  SNEAK IN MOVEMENT TIME DURING TRANSITIONS – If possible, transition time is a wonderful time to sneak in some physical activity.  Remember to teach children what STOP and GO means.  Here are 56 transitions for throughout the school day.

8.  OFFER FEEDBACK – Provide feedback about transitions.  If a student does a good job transitioning explain to him/her what they did correctly.  If changes need to be made offer suggestions on how to improve the transition the next time.

9.  DECREASE PROMPTS – As the student’s skills improve during transitions, encourage the student to transition independently.

10.  ENCOURAGE SELF-MONITORING –  Ask the students to reflect on what went wrong and what went right during the transition process.  Try using the “Are You Ready to Work?” clip chart for self-monitoring.

11.  REINFORCE POSITIVE BEHAVIORS – Provide positive reinforcement for other students who complete transitions successfully.  Students will learn from each other and model other behaviors.

12.  BE PREPARED – When a new activity is starting, be ready to go.  When there is less downtime the transition may go smoother.

13.  PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE – Students need to be taught how to transition properly and they need to practice those skills over and over again.

14.  TEACH CALMING STRATEGIES – Sometimes students may need some extra help when transitioning from recess, gym class or the lunchroom.  Teach the students calming strategies or deep breathing in order to get their bodies ready to work.

Calming Strategies – Classroom edition includes 26 full page strategies for students to use in the classroom to help them to calm down.  The packet also includes smaller versions of the cards to print and put on a key ring and a choice board with small picture icons.  It is in full color and black and white.

How to Help Students Transition Between Activities