You want kids to follow directions, right?
Ok, that makes sense.
How are your classroom transitions going? I'm talking about the transition from playtime to clean up time.....outdoor time to back inside...lunch to nap?
Do you have children who refuse to follow directions? Find that certain children get over-stimulated during daily classroom transitions and end up hurting a friend? Getting into power struggles with children about cleaning up blocks?
Here's the deal...
Let's get real. It's true.
They just are. Some of us handle them better than others. Me? It's not exactly my greatest strength.
Yes, I am talking about adult transitions. Moving. Ending a relationship. Getting yourself out of the house in the morning. Even happy transitions like the birth of a new baby (ok that one is sort of in a league of its own) or getting the car packed for a day at the beach can be STRESSFUL.
As an early childhood educator, have you ever felt that you were not being supported by your director? Last week I received an email that essentially asked:
Can you relate?
Often, our job as early childhood educators goes beyond the children and is to support the families. I was doing a training last week with teachers and when I asked them about the behavioral challenges they faced they certainly had some stories to share.
But when I asked them about the challenges they faced in collaborating with families the energy of the room went up about 10 decibels (can you measure energy in decibels?). There was a collective, "oh yes - let me tell you...!" The frustration was palpable.
Last week I was coaching teachers in a Head Start program in New York. Today I spent the morning in a Pre-K in a Seattle public school. And I've been learning new great ideas. What's most on my mind? Transitions. Specially, supporting children to transition with ease.
How do we support children to transition with ease?
Well let me tell you I have recently been witness to SEVERAL TEACHERS WHO ROCK THEIR TRANSITIONS. And today I learned two new things to make transitions go even smoother. So if you are struggling to wrangle your kids to put the toys in the buckets and baskets and put them on the shelf...if the whole thing takes more minutes then you can practice counting on your fingers...or if you are pulling your hair out about how badly your transitions go, then this is for you!
A preschool teacher recently wrote to me and asked,
“Do you have any suggestions for a 3-year-old child who has a very limited attention span? Unless an adult is playing with him (which we strive for as much as possible but can’t happen all the time) he never stays with anything for longer than 30 seconds. He loves to play in our outdoor water structure and he stays engaged for a prolonged period. This is the only time he is completely regulated. He also struggles with transitions.” - Shelby
Shelby, wow, this sounds exhausting! To start, I just want to say that it sounds like you are doing tons right with this child, in terms of prioritizing having an adult work with him 1:1 and playing with him to help him build his capacity to stay engaged. I do think that’s precisely the way to help him build his attention span. Of course, I know it’s not always possible to have an adult working directly with him all the time. Also, the fact that you observed and noted that playing with water is the exception to the rule; the time he does sustain independent engagement in an activity. And, that you noticed this seems to help self-regulate him.
Let’s think about how we can build on his interest in water and build on the fact that water play seems to self-regulate him...