Smooth Transitions

In order to have a smoothly run daily routine, children need to have a transition period that enables ample advance notice.  Children need what I will call a “processing period.”  Their brain needs a brief amount of time to process what has been said or before the change of activity.  This process period may or may not eliminate tantrums but it will surely cut down on the frequency of the “Oh, so normal part of a developing toddler.”  But I have discovered there are several ways to help smooth transitions in a group setting or even on a one to one setting as well. This is by no means a complete list! But a few that I have found and use daily.



Timers work as great advance warnings.  A five minute timer works well with older toddlers. Sometimes, I actually do not set a physical clock when giving them the “5 min heads up”.  I use my internal clock to estimate the time needed.  …Granted my internal clock seems to run slow! Ask my honey! 😉 For the younger toddlers this may look different.  I set a number of times left before change happens.  An example of this would be, “Two more books and then we will go wash up for lunch.”  This helps give them time to process what is said and have time to finish their thinking about it and then be ready to move on. Sometimes when we are in an activity I will use a timer for myself.  I know that if we stick too long to the activity they will get bored with it and then things gets wild.  In the beginning of my care for little ones, I was given advice to “end on a good note.”

Another go-to transition that I use especially when time is short and a resistance has been sighted, is offering choices.  I see this lots but sometimes the choices that are offered are not the ideal result.  Giving a tot 2 choices may seem counter productive to some in a hurry.  Remember they desire control like the rest of us. But the key with the choices doesn’t have to include the option they think is best.  It is more about them getting the “WIN” with making a decision.  Here is where we ‘outsmart the fox’… We offer 2 options that doesn’t matter at all which they choose, but it still achieves the desired outcome.  Here’s an example of a recent situation.  A tot had a sock accident and didn’t want to put socks back on.  (Don’t ask about what was ON the socks!) I offered the option to wear a pair of his or a pair of Z’s. Neither option was what he wanted but he chose Z’s pair because it was cool and put them on.  I call that a double win.  Tantrum avoided and socks on the day went on… till the next time.

The next transition smoother is not an over night fix.  I didn’t realize it was working till I was looking back on what makes our day successful.  The fact that we use a consistent daily routine and having it posted helps too.  When little ones know what is expected they don’t really put up a fight.  I will give another example: nap/bedtime struggles.  So many parents have issues with getting little ones to sleep.  At my house everyone has to rest or take a nap until they go to Kindergarten.  This is what we do and it is expected.  Nap/rest time is so important for a growing and developing young one.  We say around here “you grow when you are sleeping and our bodies need extra rest to be ready for play!”  Everyday, all 6-7 of the little ones sleep/rest at the same time.  This is our routine. We again follow our chore chart and then it naturally transitions to nap time.  They know what is expected.

I love how Mother Goose Time allows the flexibility in the curriculum for me to know my kids and the freedom to change around what works and what doesn’t. If the kids are very interested in an activity and I see they are really engaged in it, I will extend the idea into a bigger project.  This actually happened last week.  We sorted all of the manipulatives we have collected and started to combine them into groups.  It was fascinating to watch how they combined the concepts of how babies were cared for and carried around as they began to play with them in different ways.

Here are two pictures of two tots who are in transition.  Little Miss CR is helping pickup the toys getting ready for the next activity.  And Mr. OH is in process of transitioning to the “big Kid” table for lunch! That’s a big deal around here.  Both of which are doing great!

I try to set up the kiddos for success.  It is very rewarding for them, as well as for me, as they are successful in something that they are attempting to do.  As parents and caregivers, it is our ultimate desire for them to be successful adults.  Our challenge is to support them in a way that will smoothly transition them into that role.

Here are some FREE Transition Chants that you can print from MGT! They offer additional ideas on how to achieve smooth transitions. Let me know what you think of them.

How Simple Sounds Trigger Happy Transitions

The month of February we will be learning about Nursery Rhymes.  I have already created some Nursery Rhyme books from the color sheets that coincide with the lessons. They are super cute!  I’m eagerly awaiting our MGT school box to arrive with the rest of our supplies inside! Thank you for reading and have a great week!

Ms. Sally

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s