MONDAY, AUGUST 15TH, 2016
Transition time can be tough on students with challenging behaviors. Moving from one activity to the next often presents opportunities for behavioral issues. In many cases those behavioral issues can be avoided if staff understand the vantage point of the student and anticipate the potential challenges of the transition process. Transitions are just that; moving from one thing to the next. No big deal for most kids. But kids with challenging behaviors are not “most kids.” In many cases we may be talking about moving from one academic activity to the next. For example, from math to social studies. In other cases, it may mean physically moving from one area of the room to another or from one area of the building to another. For example, transitioning from the classroom to the lunchroom. Here are some simple tips to help make transition time smooth and uneventful:
1. Keep your classroom routine sacred. Kids with challenging behaviors do not deal well with changes to the routine. They need and deserve a classroom activity schedule that is predictable right down to the minute. Set it, communicate it, post it, keep it.
2. When anticipating a transition from one activity to the next or one physical location to another, communicate in a clear, concise, and supportive tone, precisely the kind of behavior you expect. Give kids with challenging behaviors a picture in their mind’s eye of what acceptable behavior associated with the transition should look like.
3. Remind students with challenging behaviors of an upcoming transition well ahead of time. Don’t assume that they will “just know” what is coming next. Give them time to process the intended change and plan for acceptable behavior. For example, “In two minutes we will be lining up for lunch.”
4. Keep transition time to a bare minimum. And keep it purposeful, directed toward a simple, specific outcome, and well within the developmental abilities of the student with challenging behaviors. Down time is often trouble time.
5. Keep an eye on what behavior data indicates regarding individual students. Track the addition or subtraction of behavior points and/or ratings relative to the time of day. If an individual student demonstrates a consistent pattern of behavior issues during transition time, make adjustments accordingly. Web-based EZ Behavior Tracker software by KeBecca makes this analysis simple and effective.
Helping students with challenging behaviors transition smoothly is a vitally important social skill. Developing those skills can be made a lot easier if staff who work with students with challenging behaviors implement best practice when planning for and managing transition time. It takes a little planning and usually a lot of patience. Managing smooth transitions is one of the most important social skills our kids with challenging behaviors need to practice and demonstrate.