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Give Advance Notice to Smooth Transitions


Social-Emotional Learning All Ages Strategy


Anxiety Flexible Thinking Self-regulation Organization

Give Advance Notice to Smooth Transitions

If your student gets upset or anxious around transitions

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Extra time and preparation will help students have an easier time transitioning between tasks or activities.
  2. Teacher Takeaways: a) Manage expectations. Students might resist a transition because they feel unprepared or fear the unknown. Give clear details about what the next activity entails, offer reassurance, and the opportunity to ask questions. b) Be specific. Saying, "Finish up and get ready," is too open-ended. Include clear steps with visual and auditory cues. (Ex: 1. Put your journal in the basket. 2. Get your social studies binder 3. Sit at table 3.) c) Advance notice. A 5-min 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. d) Offer choice. Giving some control of the situation can be helpful. Ex: If the upcoming class requires three tasks, let the student decide which one to tackle first.
  3. Considerations: a) 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. b) Consider giving students who really struggle a personal extra 10-minute warning, perhaps with a tap on the shoulder or a whisper in the ear. c) Even when there is a time constraint, avoid rushing. Feeling rushed can lead to more stress.

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.