by, Tracy Riekenberg
I don’t know how transitions go at your home, but at my home (and at All Seasons), they can be a little hairy. Young children often have a hard time stopping one activity to begin another. Even with 5-minute warnings, countdowns, and visual cues, children can get frustrated being told to move to the next game, activity, lesson, chore, or heck, even the next aisle at Target!
One trick for easier transitions is using music. When my kids were young and we attended ECFE, the teacher had a clean up song: “Bye-bye toys. Bye-bye Toys. Big toys, little toys. Bye-bye toys.” Years later, it’s an earworm that gets stuck in my head at home when we are cleaning up. I recently sang it to my 8-year old twins and they first laughed, but then joined in and sang along (and continued cleaning!)
All the teachers at All Seasons also use music and special songs to help with transitions. When group time starts in the Autumn Room, the teachers lead a song that begins with saying hello to friends and ends with everyone sitting down. The Spring Room uses made-up transition songs like “Come on over here” to gather children for directions. Even the youngest All Seasons students in the Winter Room know that when they hear their name in the dismissal song, it’s time to go.
One of the trickiest parts of the day at All Seasons is the transition with the all-day students from lunch (high energy) to rest time (desired low energy). Like a group of adult friends eating lunch together, the children are excited to share stories, tell jokes, and have downtime with their friends. And this is great for social development!
But the hardest part comes when we move to the resting room right after lunch. Kids are still wired and chatty. The mood doesn’t immediately turn restful. Staggered entrance to the resting room, which depends on when children finish eating and cleaning up, doesn’t help the transition as everyone is busy looking to see who comes in the room.
One day on a whim, I decided to play some Beatles music as the preschoolers entered the room. I encouraged children to dance to the music. I set guidelines about what the dancing should look like: dance alone, no lying down, stay on the floor, jumping is ok, and most importantly: HAVE FUN!
It has been working like a charm, of course! It’s just another musical transition that helps the kids move from one activity to another. As counter-intuitive as it seems to adults, having
a bit of high energy dancing is the perfect transition to resting. The children are eager to come to the resting room on time so they have a chance to dance. They get some of their wiggles out so lying down is easier to do. They have fun — and get to hear fun music!
So far we’ve danced to “Twist and Shout” and “Birthday” by the Beatles, “ABC” by the Jackson Five, “Hound Dog” by Elvis,” and “Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone. The rest time dance parties may just be an excuse to work my way through my favorites in my music catalog, but it’s working transition magic I didn’t expect! And we sure have some kids with awesome dance moves at All Seasons!