Routines and Transitions

“Children gain a great deal when teachers let go of the lead, including: a sense of the power and pleasure of communication, increased self-esteem and self-confidence, the desire to initiate in other situations, and many more opportunities to learn language.” – Learning Language and Loving It: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Social, Language, and Literacy Development in Early Childhood Settings. 2002.







  • Follow a predictable schedule each day. This helps children know what will happen next. When children know what to expect, routines go more smoothly and you can spend time talking to the children instead of managing challenging behaviours.
  • Use simple and familiar language. Slowly add new vocabulary and more complex language.
  • Carry out routines in a similar way each time. Children learn what to expect. Sing songs about daily activities. You can make up your own!



  • View transition times as opportunities for learning – Transitions hold many opportunities for skill-building, problem-solving, listening, following directions, and cooperation. (from Childcare Lounge)
  • Give advance warning to prepare the children before the transition occurs.
  • Use a signal like clapping hands, ringing a bell , setting a visual timer or singing a transition song to announce transitions. Make sure you pair the signal with words!
  • Keep language simple and repeat information or instructions.
  • Use a picture schedule or other visuals to help children understand what comes next.
  • Allow enough time for transitions. No one likes to be rushed!
  • Keep wait times as short as possible. If children must wait, do something! Sing songs, make up rhymes, move like animals, play ‘I Spy’, or have conversations.
  • Find more ideas at Early Childhood News and Preschool Express.