Schedules and Transitions


    An appropriate preschool environment should foster independence, creativity, cognitive, social, emotional, and physical growth.  In order to do this one needs to have an appropriate schedule, with routines, and flexibility which will provide ample opportunities for children to involve themselves in group work, independent work, physical tasks, and one on one interaction with the teacher.  The schedule of a preschool is dependent to a large extent on the philosophy of the program, duration of the program, staffing issues, number of children, availability of space (if the program is sharing space with another program).  Irrespective of the above factors good schedule Gestwicki (1999) recommends have the following elements:

1.     The schedule should be flexible and follow a pattern, so that the children can feel secure in knowing what to expect next.

2.     The schedule should have a good balance of activities that are child initiated and teacher initiated.

3.     An appropriate schedule for preschoolers should have a balance of active and quiet periods which include indoor and outdoor activities.

4.     A good schedule should also recognize the developmental differences among children and provide adequate time blocks for children to work at activities and tasks.

Transitions and Ways to Make it Less Chaotic:

          Transitions between one activity to another can be chaotic or smooth.  A lot of this depends on how the teacher plans the activities and transitions.  The transitions in a day have to be planned for to make it easy for both the children and the teachers, only when it goes unplanned does it lead to chaos.  Some of the following tips can be used plan for transitions:

1.     Give adequate notice and warning to the children to prepare them for the transition.  The warning will help the children understand that they need to wind up their activities and get ready to move on to the next task.

2.     Plan certain rituals to go with the transition.  Some teachers use puppets who announce the transition, and songs to help children clean up or come back into the classroom from outside.  Fingerplays are also another useful means to keep the children focused while waiting for the rest of the children.  Teachers can make their own finger mittens with garden gloves, and make laminated pieces with magnets attached to the back and the mittens to go with various songs (e.g., five little monkeys, five little ducks, BINGO, etc.)

3.     If possible have an adult end and start the concurrent activities.  Do not wait for all the children or until all the centers are cleaned up to start the next activity.  If one adult will take over the cleaning process or bringing the children from outside and the other adult goes ahead and starts the group time or music time or nap time, it will help the children move from task to task without too much of a wait time.

4.     During transitions give clear, precise instructions.  Wordy instructions will confuse the children.  Also, get the children to help each other.  If you are having trouble with children picking up use clear choices with clear outcomes and follow through with it if they do not pick the choices.

5.     One could also use techniques like open ended questions, scrambled sentences and putting them in order, or give the children story skeletons and ask each of them to complete it, rhyming games, riddles, scrambled words and ask the children the unscramble the words.

6.     Teachers can also glue a picture of the child on a sentence strip and write the child’s name on it.  You can hold these strips up to dismiss the children.