5 Ways to Help Kids to Manage Transitions

The timer goes off and it’s time to move on to a new activity. Kids are upset. They don’t want to move on! Sound familiar? It’s definitely familiar for me in working with Kindergarten students (and even some older students!). So how can we teach kids to make transitions smoothly and manage expectations around classroom activities? Keep reading for 5 tips to help your students manage transitions and how I teach these skills in small group counseling!

How do you teach kids to make transitions away from high-interest activities? Read these 5 tips for helping kids make smooth transitions!

Teach Kids to Make Transitions

1 – Manage Expectations

To help kids make transitions, it’s always helpful to have a visual schedule. Some students are fine to reference a visual schedule on the classroom wall or board and others need a desk-version on the visual schedule. This helps kids understand what to expect and feel more comfortable as transitions arise.

We can also help kids manage expectations by giving frequent reminders during activities. Letting kids know how many minutes are remaining in an activity and reminding them when they’ll get to do a preferred activity again can help make transitions time smoother.

2 – Use a Timer

A sand timer or large countdown timer on the board can really help some kids visualize and understand the time remaining in the activity they’re completing, whether it’s a preferred or non-preferred activity. Some students may prefer to have a small timer on their desks or to simply set a countdown timer on their own watches to help them have a clear visual representation of time remaining.

How do you teach kids to make transitions away from high-interest activities? Read these 5 tips for helping kids make smooth transitions! Perfect for kindergarten students, first grade, and second grade students learning to transition. Great for social skills group counseling activities and behavior goals, behavior plans, and behavior skills. -Counselor Keri

3 – Future Focus

When kids really enjoy a particular activity, it can be hard to transition to something else! Keep the conversation future-focused and let them know when they’ll get to do the activity again. “This was really fun! I can’t wait until we get to try it again this afternoon!” or “I can tell you had a great time – I bet you’ll enjoy it when we do it again tomorrow too,” can help kids remember that moving away from this activity isn’t forever and they’ll get another chance to have fun later.

How do you teach kids to make transitions away from high-interest activities? Read these 5 tips for helping kids make smooth transitions!

4 – Make Transitions Fun

When it is time to move on to a new activity, make it fun! Bunny hop to the next area. Sing your favorite song as you clean up. Do a fun, active yoga sequence as a transitional activity between tasks. Walk to your next activity along a fun sensory path route. Just make it fun!

How do you teach kids to make transitions away from high-interest activities? Read these 5 tips for helping kids make smooth transitions! Perfect for kindergarten students, first grade, and second grade students learning to transition. Great for social skills group counseling activities and behavior goals, behavior plans, and behavior skills. -Counselor Keri
How do you teach kids to make transitions away from high-interest activities? Read these 5 tips for helping kids make smooth transitions!

5 – Teach Calming Strategies

Sometimes, transitioning really isn’t fun. Teach kids to utilize calming strategies like controlled breathing and positive self-talk when they feel upset by a transition. In the classroom, this might look like a 1-minute breathing exercise after a timer goes off and before clean-up actually begins. Click here to find fun activities to teach coping skills!

How I teach kids to make transitions smoothly:

I teach kids to make transitions in my Kindergarten social skills small group counseling program with a high-interest activity, a timer, a transitional activity, and a revisit to the high-interest activity! We do a building activity that the kids love and set a timer. When the timer goes off, we practice a breathing exercise, clean up, do a fun transition activity, and use a timer to make sure we’re managing expectations and save some time at the end for the high-interest activity. Find more activities for teaching Kindergarten social skills here on my blog.

How do you teach kids to make transitions away from high-interest activities? Read these 5 tips for helping kids make smooth transitions!
How do you teach kids to make transitions away from high-interest activities? Read these 5 tips for helping kids make smooth transitions! Perfect for kindergarten students, first grade, and second grade students learning to transition. Great for social skills group counseling activities and behavior goals, behavior plans, and behavior skills. -Counselor Keri

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