Transitioning between activities

Being able to make successful transitions between activities allows students to participate more fully in learning and social activities.

Choose the statement below that best describes how this student manages transitions between activities.
This will help you identify a starting point for selecting strategies (e.g., 1=specialized, 2=targeted, 3=universal).

  • 1. Requires one-to-one assistance to provide support for transitioning (e.g., moving from one area to another) and/or to maintain behaviour when transitioning from one learning activity to another in the classroom
  • 2. Requires frequent (e.g., more than three times per week) reminders and/or supervision to demonstrate appropriate behaviour when moving from one learning activity to another in the classroom
  • 3. May require occasional (e.g., less than twice per week) reminders but generally demonstrates appropriate behaviour when moving from one learning activity to another in the classroom

Universal Supports benefit all students

  • Develop effective classroom routines for smooth transitions between learning activities, including:
    • using prearranged signals, such as a chime, piece of recorded music or sign on the board, to provide a friendly reminder that a transition is to begin three to five minutes before the actual transition time
    • using a second prearranged signal (e.g., distinct sound like a chime) to indicate a transition will begin.
  • For younger children, it may be helpful to develop a song or rhyme that advises what needs to happen (e.g., "It's sharing time, it's sharing time, let's make a circle.").
  • At the beginning of the school year make time during classroom instruction to teach, practise and review routines for transitions between activities. Model what needs to happen during these times and then give students opportunities for guided practice.
  • Post visual schedules to help students anticipate transitions from one activity to the next. When appropriate, collaborate with students to develop these visual schedules and reminders.
  • Use descriptive feedback to acknowledge positive behaviour during transitions of individuals, groups of students and/or the class as a whole.

Targeted Supports benefit students with more specific needs

  • Pair individual students with positive peers who can serve as role models and provide support during transitions from one learning activity to the next. Rotate these peers at regular intervals throughout the school year.
  • Provide proximity by positioning yourself nearby individual students who may require support when making transitions from one activity to the next.
  • For students who require more structure and reassurance, develop and review social stories about what they need to do when making transitions from one activity to the next.
  • Some students may require additional time to transition from one activity to the next, and may benefit from beginning the transition earlier so they can start the next activity at the same time as the other students.

Specialized Supports benefit the small number of students with sensory, physical, cognitive or behavioural needs that require intensive, individualized interventions

  • In exceptional cases, an individual student may need 1:1 adult support to facilitate participation in classroom routines and social interactions with other students. This support should be provided as naturally and as unobtrusively as possible.