Children go through many transitions in their lives. New homes, schools, teachers, and friends can sometimes be the norm. When experiencing these changes, children can struggle with regaining normal routines. In their struggle these same children can exhibit troubled behaviors, making the transitions even harder.
However, transitions do not have to be hard. The following are a few things to keep in mind when planning daily activities that will aid in keeping the transition struggles at a minimum:
1. Simple is best: Too many transitions throughout the day can be confusing and overwhelming for young children.
2. Make it fun: Children feed off the attitude of the adults in their lives. Facial expressions and tone of voice can be either helpful or detrimental. If your face and tone of voice says “I’m excited!” the children will be as well.
3. Adequate adult supervision is vital: If you anticipate some children in the group will have trouble during transitions, call upon the aid of other team members to help make the transition easier.
4. Minimize waiting time: Attention spans for young children are brief, and making them stand in line or wait for extended periods of time can lead to undesirable behaviors such as hitting, kicking, pushing, etc.
5. Provide adequate time to prepare for transitions: Adequate time to complete an activity and knowing what is coming next in daily routines will help a child mentally prepare for transitions throughout the day.
6. Plan ahead: Having the tools ready will “keep the ball rolling” and minimize distractions.
7. Give specific directions: Some children will need this, and being “too wordy” can cause confusion.
8. Model appropriate behavior: Don’t assume “they know better than that.” It is more probable that young children do not “know better.” We are their guide, they will mimic what we teach.
9. Lastly: Know your children. Daily observation and interaction will strengthen relationships and help gain knowledge in what the children will respond to and what works or what does not work for each child.
(Partially taken from Cathy Abraham's article "Smooth Transitions in Child Care". Click to visit the Child Care Lounge for more information on transitions.)