# 10.4: Effective Transitions

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### Create language and literacy learning experience plans that promote child development and learning for children.

CRITERIA: Plan includes effective transitions

## Effective Transitions

Transitions that are effective will:

1. Make your day flow smoothly.

2. Gain the children's attention or interest.

3. Help you to give directions about what is coming next or how the children should do something.

4. Help you move the children from one activity to another in an orderly fashion.

5. Transitions can also help you to assess what they children have learned.

## Types of Transitions for Your Learning Experience Plans

1. Gaining Attention and/or Interest: You will want to plan a transition for your introduction to your activities that will gain the children's attention and entice them to want to do the upcoming activity. Some ideas for this include songs or fingerplays related to the activity, surprise boxes or bags, puppets, drawing their attention to previous learning and helping them make a connection to the new learning that will occur in the activity.

An effective transition gains their attention and focus. It is interesting and helps the children to be excited about the upcoming activity. This is an example of what an effective transition is NOT. Telling the children "Ok, we are going to read a story", or "We are going to do this activity.", or "Who wants to...."

2. Dismissal Transition: You will be planning a dismissal transition from your activity to the next activity in the day or from the directions part of your activity to the area they will go next to complete the next part of the activity.

You can use this as a time to assess what the children have learned by asking them a question. You will ask the children a question, one at a time. Once the child answers, they are dismissed to the next activity.

Please be thoughtful and intentional in your transition activities. It is best when you can connect them to the learning or theme of the activities they are doing.

## Transitions

It is important to focus on creating and managing smooth transitions between activities in the classroom. Reasons to address transitions between activities in early childhood classrooms include:

• Transitions take up a great deal of time in preschool classrooms.
• During transitions, children often spend a lot of time waiting (e.g., waiting until everyone has finished their snack, waiting for everyone to clean up before beginning large group time). All of this time waiting with nothing to do can lead to unrealistic expectations and challenging behaviors.
• Some children (and adults) have stressful and frustrating experiences during transitions between activities (e.g., children arguing over who took out what toys and who should put them away; children not knowing where to put certain toys when they are done with them; children not knowing what to do, children not knowing expectations for the transition).
• Many preschool teachers and other caregivers consider children’s ability to independently make transitions between activities one of the essential skills needed in group contexts such as preschool and kindergarten.[1]

### Supporting Successful Transitions

There are numerous strategies that can be used to ensure well-organized transitions between activities. These include strategies you use before the transition, during the transition, and following the transition.

• Before the Transition
• Plan your daily schedule to include the minimal number of transitions that occur over the course of the day. Minimize the number of transitions in which all children have to do the same thing at the same time (e.g., Do all children have to go to the restroom at the same time? Can some children come over to the rug and sing a song or read a book, while other children finish an activity?).
• Plan for what adults will do during transition times (e.g., Which adult is responsible for greeting the children? Who will begin looking at books on the carpet with children?).
• Teach children the expectations for the transition routine. Teaching children how to clean up and how to line up will reduce the length of transition times. By reducing transition times, more time is available for children to spend in other learning activities. As children become familiar with the expectations, problem behaviors are less likely to occur.
• Provide verbal and nonverbal cues before transitions (e.g., “Five minutes ‘til snack. It’s almost time for clean-up,” show pictures of the next activity, beat a drum). Once a transition cue has been established, the cue should be used consistently to signal the transition.
• During the Transition
• Engage children in transition activities (sing songs, play word or guessing games, recite rhymes, organize finger plays). Transition activities provide children with an activity to complete while other children are still transitioning. These activities also encourage children to finish their previous task, so that they can play the game or sing the song. During these activities, skills related to the transition can also be taught (e.g., setting the table for snack or lunch, sorting toys during clean-up time).
• Allow children adequate time to finish projects or activities so they do not become frustrated by activities ending too soon. Give them a warning that it is about time to change activities.
• Plan something to engage those children who finish an activity quickly, so they are not waiting without anything to do (e.g., if some children finish cleaning up and getting to large group quickly, they might look at books while waiting for other children to finish cleaning up).
• Individualize support to accommodate individual children’s needs.
• Photos to help anticipate what activity is next.
• Directions given in a child’s home language or sign language.
• An individual warning to a child that it will soon be time to clean up and begin a new activity.
• Support may need to be individualized (i.e., one child may need an adult to provide a five-minute, three-minute, and one-minute warning before clean up while the rest of the class might need only a three-minute warning).
• After transitions
• Provide positive attention and feedback to children following transitions.
• When children pick up toys without much prompting, share with them how this shows how well they take care of the classroom materials.
• When children are working together to accomplish the task more quickly, let them know how much you appreciate their teamwork (e.g., “Nicholas and Jorge did a great job cleaning together and moving to the carpet”).

You can also work to promote independence during transitions by

• Allowing children to move individually from one area to another area when they complete an activity (e.g., as children finish snack, they are encouraged to go to the carpet and choose a book; as children finish putting away their coats and backpacks, they are encouraged to get a puzzle).
• Teaching children to help others (e.g., have children move as partners from one activity to another, or ask one child to help another child gather his/her backpack).
• Helping children self-monitor during transitions (e.g., children can be asked to think about how quietly or quickly they moved from one activity to another).

The following vignette offers an opportunity to watch and listen for the learning that occurs during a transition routine and to reflect on the planning that had to occur in order for this experience to play out as it did.