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Make a Schedule

The simplest way to create an easier transition is to use a visual schedule. Using a visual schedule provides structure and predictability, which decreases anxiety. Schedules can be complex and include the whole day, or they can be simple and focus only on the task at hand. Below are examples of schedules, and how you might use them with children who have difficulty with transitions.

"First --> Then" Boards are my go-to transition-buster tool! You can use them with a classroom schedule, or on their own. Laminate and use a dry-erase marker to write in the activity, or use pictures and Velcro to illustrate. You can use it for big transitions: "FIRST lunch --> THEN recess" or small transitions "FIRST take out lunch box --> THEN eat lunch" erasing and changing as the activity changes.


"FIRST --> THEN --> LATER" Boards are similar to the first then boards, but allow for an extra activity.


Every kid who has difficulty with transitions should have a general schedule for their day. You can write in the subjects or activities, or you can take pictures to illustrate. Using a picture of the child while they are participating in the activity is even better as it can "jump start" their mind to remember the activity. This will ease the motor planning involved and create a smoother transition.

A more complicated schedule with a reflection part for each subject is great for older students who become restless or anxious at transition times. Keeping the mind busy with an organizing task is a great strategy for students who tend to "get lost" during the in-betweens. I have used schedules like the one below and added a complex maze or coloring sheet on the back to keep heads and hands busy. Zones refer to the "Zones of Regulation" curriculum, and can easily be changed to meet the specific demands of the classroom.

What kinds of transition schedules work for you or your kiddos?

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