The "five minute warning" really has not been helpful at our house for managing transitions. Maybe for Amanda but Ana and Tali are just too little to grasp time. Ana begins whining and crying about ending the activity when I give the five minute warning and Tali has forgotten about the warning by the time I finally end the activity and she melts down.
However, I have discovered that counting down from five seems to provide enough time and distraction to move from one activity to the next. I might say something like, "I'm going to ask you to help clean up the toys in 5----4------3-------2------1!" Then we race around clean up as fast as we can.
Or "I'm going to tell you to go up and get ready for bed in 5----4------3-------2------1!" And we race up the stairs to the bathroom.
Or "I'm going to tell you to line up to go in the house in 5----4------3-------2------1!" As a side note, we've started using a lot of class room procedures like lining up near the teacher and moving from one place to another all together. If I send them up to the bathroom, into the house, or over to the door to get ready by themselves there is always trouble. If I lead them, life is much better. Amanda thinks it's pretty fun when I'm being the "teacher."
We also use the count down for fun things, too, like starting out on a bike ride or all brushing our teeth together. Yes, tooth brushing is fun. I don't usually let the toddlers have their own tooth brush but I've discovered that if we all do it together as an event, they will copy me and brush instead of just biting on the bristles. Plus I can get my teeth brushed without them wandering off and getting into trouble because I can't direct them.
I am also going to start working on making visual schedules and using other techniques I found on the TACSEI website. Hopefully this will make life a little less chaotic around here.
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5 years ago