Have you ever walked into one of those classrooms where all of the children are acting like perfect little angels and wonder what dark magic the teacher is using? Well, here it is! They start the year by setting clear expectations…and continue to reinforce them all year long.
“It can’t be that easy,” you might be thinking, “those are just good children!” In a way, this might be correct. There are certainly personality differences in each child, that makes their reactions unique. However, even the most strong-willed children react positively to routine and clear expectations.
If every single time a child screamed about cleaning up their toys, and every single time they were still made to clean them up anyway, eventually they are going to stop screaming about it. This child will begin to understand that not only do they still have to clean up their toys, but now they might also be cleaning up their toys while the other children are outside having fun!
Another way to establish routine is to set timers. In my experience, children respond well to being given warnings when they have to stop playing, rather than expecting them to clean up immediately. I usually give warnings in increments of 5 minutes, depending on how much time is left. I then usually give a 1 minute warning before beginning the cleanup song that we use on YouTube.
To being the warnings, I usually phrase it in a way that shows it is not a request and explain what we will be doing afterwards. For example, “We have 10 minutes until we need to clean up our toys to have circle time!” Starting with a 10 minute warning, I would then say the exact same thing at the 5 minute and then 1 minute mark. I always let the timer run out because it gives the children more accountability. Once the children hear the timer go off, it is the duty of the designated “mess monitor” of the day to turn the lights off while I begin the cleanup song. I use this cleanup song, but there are plenty of others. Remember, it is a song that you will be listening to multiple times every single day, so make sure it is a song that can allow you to retain your sanity!
The final tip for this post to help with transitions is to try to make sure that you are using roughly the same schedule every day. At school we usually have free play, breakfast, bathroom break, outside time, large group/circle time, lunch, free play, bathroom break, nap, bathroom break, snack, free play, and quiet time. The children know what is coming next in the schedule and that makes it easier for them to accept the transition. We also have pictures of each of these up on the wall and use a clothespin to show which activity we are currently on.
Hopefully these tips have helped you with ideas on how to make daily transitions easier on your child…and you! As always, please do not hesitate to send me a message or comment!