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Give Advance Notice to Smooth Transitions


Social-Emotional Learning/Growth Mindset Universal Design for Learning All Ages Strategy


Anxiety Flexible Thinking Self-regulation Organization

Give Advance Notice to Smooth Transitions

Nothing in life is to be feared, only understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
— Marie Curie

Help students who struggle with transitions by giving them the extra time and support they need to handle any frustration or disappointment until they learn how to effectively handle transitions on their own.

How To Apply It!

  1. Manage expectations. Students might resist the next activity because they feel unprepared. Ease fear of the unknown by giving clear details about what the new activity entails, guidance of your expectations, offer reassurance, and the opportunity to ask questions.
  2. Give precise instructions. Saying, "Finish up and get ready," can be too open-ended for students. Include clear steps. Visual and auditory reminders are often helpful. For example: 1. Put your journal in the basket. 2. Get your social studies binder 3. Sit at the table where you were for project work yesterday.
  3. Give advance notice. A 5-minute warning to end an activity and move to the next is often sufficient for older students. Younger students benefit from a 5-minute warning, followed up by a 1-minute reminder.
  4. Use a visual timer when you give advance notice. Seeing the time pass can help. And it lessens the chance for disagreement when it's time to move on.
  5. Consider giving students who really struggle a personal and extra 10-minute warning, perhaps with a tap on the shoulder or a whisper in the ear.
  6. Offer choice and allow for input. Giving some control of the situation can be helpful. For example, if the upcoming class requires a student to complete three tasks, let the student decide which one to tackle first.
  7. Even when there is a time constraint, avoid rushing. Feeling rushed can lead to more stress which can cause an over-reaction.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

All transitions require students to shift their mindset, prepare for a new set of expectations, potentially adapt to a different physical environment, and perhaps move from a fun activity to a less desirable one. Transitioning between tasks, subjects and activities can be a big source of stress for students if they do not know what to expect or if they are moving from an activity they like to one that is not as motivating. If teachers and parents can help make transitions well-defined and predictable, it will make these shifts easier.