Today in a meeting with parents, I was reminded that transitions are difficult for some children and some adults. Changing a course of action or level of participation to start a new activity can be taxing for some people. Children especially have not all learned to be flexible or to “go with the flow”. How can we help children make smooth transitions? Some of the ways we help at Twin Parks Montessori School are as follows.
Routines and consistent schedules are primary to making smooth transitions. Children do best when they can predict what comes next. This begins their basic understanding of telling time. For instance, after circle time we go outside. A child will think, "I will get my vest on and get ready to go outside". Rest comes after lunch. "I finished my lunch and now I will get my sheet on my cot".
Talking about the day with your child will help reinforce the consistent schedule. Role playing can work well during breakfast conversations. “When you get to school, your teacher will be there to greet you. Show me how you knock on the door and greet your teacher.”
Also, allowing enough time to get ready in the morning will giving a time frame of when the transition will happen. “In 20 minutes, we will leave for school.” Then, “in 10 minutes we will leave for school.” This give children time to prepare themselves emotionally for the transition.
Teachers often use songs to signal a transition. Just like Mary Poppins, the power of song can encourage children to do an activity. A Clean UP Song signals a time to stop playing and clean up. Singing the song at school and home helps to bridge the home and school connection. One example is from Laurie Berkner Band.
Visual cues are extremely helpful as well. Create a picture chart of the day or week that can be referred to as time passes. Start with a picture of your child waking up and proceed with pictures of the walk or ride to school. Nighttime routines can be done in pictures, in the order you would like them to happen: dinner, bath, brush teeth, read books and bed. Again, use pictures of your child which will encourage your child to take ownership of the schedule.
Always encourage your child when they are attempting to follow the schedule and are making progress with transitions. With consistent support your child will learn to switch gears without tears and tantrums.