Turning troublesome transitions into triumph

There is one time of day in my classroom that I would call the biggest transition of our day and it falls just before we head outside to play.

You could describe that transition as troublesome. It is noisy, somewhat chaotic, and seemingly unorganized as the children go from cubby to mailbox to back packs to putting on jackets and finally lining up to head outdoors.

I recently read a comment where the commenter described transitions as “a waste of time.” I thought about that comment as I considered my own “troublesome transition” and came to the conclusion that although the transition may be troublesome – it was by far NOT a waste of time.

During this seemingly chaotic time, my students are building daily life skills from putting on jackets to zipping up zippers.

During this seemingly unorganized time, my students are building organizational skills from stacking and folding up papers or artwork and then putting everything away neatly in their backpacks.

During this seemingly waste of time, my students are learning to help each other, follow simple steps to accomplish a goal, and learning the value of waiting patiently on each other so we can go outside as a community to play.


Are transitions troublesome? Yes, they most certainly can be. But are they a waste of time? I think it is all in the approach. If the approach is to have children standing around waiting on the teacher, then perhaps the time is wasted. But if the approach is to build skills, promote independence, and work together as a community to accomplish tasks then that troublesome transition can actually be quite triumphant!

More to Grow On

I recently participated in Bam Radio Show segment hosted by Rae Pica titled: “Five Tips to Chaos-Free, Learning-Filled Transitions!”  Check it out to see listen to the discussion and learn more about dealing constructively with transitions.

By |2018-11-02T11:05:32+00:00April 4th, 2017|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Brenda April 9, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    I am a 4 year old preschool teacher and we do this exact same thing. When it comes to zipping jackets, those who can zip help a friend. I am always amazed of how efficient they can in the “chaos”.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 10, 2017 at 7:07 am - Reply

      I think we feel the chaos far more than the children do:) I agree – they are just so competent and efficient. We just have to be aware of what is happening in the midst of the “chaos”!

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