Building Strong Routines with Orderly Transitions in Preschool


Preschool teachers and classrooms that teach social, emotional, and self-regulation skills are ones that best prepare children for academic and social success in kindergarten (Nix, Bierman, Domitrovich, & Gill: 2013).   Yet children from underserved populations, who most need the highest quality preschool experiences, are frequently in chaotic rooms ( LoCasale-Crouch, Jennifer, et al.: 2007).

Transitioning from one activity to the next is a time when children are most likely to demonstrate challenging behaviors (Hemmeter, Ostrosky, Artman, and Kinder: 2008).  Any of us who have worked with preschool age children in a classroom know that it can be difficult to keep order when transitioning a group from one activity to another.  This is particularly true when your class needs to leave your classroom!


Many preschool teachers use dots or some sort of place marker to indicate where children should sit or stand.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As a school-based occupational therapist, I have witnessed this practice countless times and know that it is hugely beneficial in helping children understand where they should be and what they should do.

This year I have the pleasure to work with a brilliant teacher Stephany, who orchestrates multiple flawless transitions for her classroom.

She brings a new twist to the use of poly-dots.   As she calls children’s names to go to stand in line when going to the bathroom, the kids pick up and carry the dot that they have been sitting on.


 Once out of the classroom and into the hall, children know exactly where to go.
                                                                                                                                                                       When they are done in the bathroom, her students know exactly where to sit and wait while the teacher is inside the bathroom assisting other students.

As an occupational therapist, I love the extra potential learning opportunities that arise when the kids have a dot in their hands.

As they walk down the hall, students practice directionality and body awareness.   Sometimes they walk with the dots in front of them, sometimes on their head, and to the left we see them walking with the dots held in their left hands.

When returning from the bathroom, children will go to sit at their table spots. They don’t need the dots anymore, so they put the dots in a tub where they are within easy reach of the teacher.

What are your favorite preschool transition tricks?

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