Transitions during the day
Out of routine activities
Excursions and school camps
Assessments and homework
Safety drills and first aid
Some children may find transitioning from one activity to another, or one setting to another, challenging. Some children may be upset or anxious about the change and may become disruptive or be distracted during a transition. Below are some strategies that may help a child with a disability or developmental challenge transition throughout the day.
- It may help if you tell children beforehand that it is almost time to transition. Giving them clear instructions for what they will do (e.g. pack up your paper and pencils; put your hat on) and what behaviour is expected (e.g. We are going to pack up quietly. We are going to keep our hands to ourselves) may also be helpful. Information about how long they have to transition may also be needed.
- Children find it easier to transition from one activity to another when it is part of their normal routine. Consider having a clear routine. You could provide children with a clear schedule that they can look at. This way they know what is coming up. Some children may need reminders throughout the day to look at the schedule. Access AllPlay Learn’s class schedule which can be found on our primary teacher resources page.
- Look for opportunities to encourage children for good transitions. Consider acknowledging their efforts for prompt transitions or for following instructions well.
- Some children with a disability may need extra help with knowing how to transition. Short videos showing how to pack up, walk from one class to another, or line up to go home may help. Stories that outline a transition may also help.
Changes in routine can be upsetting for a child with a disability or developmental challenge, and an unknown teacher leading a session may be particularly upsetting. Telling parents and the child of an absence in advance can be helpful as you can work together to prepare their child for the change.
- A child may adjust well to having a relief teacher if the relief teacher knows the specific routines and teaching tips that the usual classroom teacher uses
- Out-of-routine activities such as class rotations or an incursion may worry some students. Consider letting children know beforehand about the activity and what it will involve. A visual schedule may be helpful for some children.
- Assemblies or other large gatherings may worry some students. It may help to let a child sit where they feel safe - perhaps near their teacher. As they feel less anxious encourage them to sit closer to their classmates.
- Performing in front of others or receiving awards may make some children anxious. Start with what a child can do and build slowly from there.
- Noise-reducing headphones may help a child who is upset by loud assemblies or gatherings
Some children may need extra help on camps. Consider discussing with parents what help their child may need.
- It can be helpful to tell the child what will happen or provide a visual schedule. This can include what behaviour is expected.
- Consider pairing a child with a buddy who can model positive behaviours or be a safe person if they feel anxious
- Some children may need to take short breaks or rests. Plan the schedule and activities accordingly.
- Plan excursions in wheelchair accessible locations if relevant. Plan transportation accordingly.
- Plan excursions with Braille or tactile signage if relevant. Venues which include audio guides, speech-to-text or engage other senses are a great option. It is important to orientate a child who is blind or low vision to the new environment.
- Consider the pain management needs of a child if relevant when organising an excursion or camp
Some children may find working on school work at home without help challenging. Consider what a child can complete independently when assigning homework. Alternatively, consider not assigning homework to a class to give a child some time away from books.
- Suggesting that parents use a consistent homework routine at home can be helpful. This may involve doing homework in a distraction-free area at a set time.
- Some children may be anxious about sitting tests. It may be helpful to give them extra time beforehand to get to know the test setting and to take some deep breaths. Some students may feel more confident if they can look through all of the questions at the beginning of the test.
- Breaking down an assessment into smaller steps can help students who are anxious or who find organisation challenging
- Some children may require specific adaptations to tests based on their needs. This may include more time to complete tests, less work, or break times during tests
Unexpected safety drills may upset some children. This can be more difficult if there are lots of other children around or strangers such as emergency service workers. Consider letting a child know beforehand that there will be a drill.
- Pair them with a buddy or staff member they feel safe with. Noise-reducing headphones may help if a child finds the noise of the alarms upsetting.
- Some children may not know how to tell an adult if there is an emergency, or what to do in an emergency or emergency drill. Consider making time for demonstrating and practising what to do. Consider accessibility of evacuation points and procedures for students with diverse needs.
- Some children may be distressed by blood or bandages or refuse to have an ice pack or medication. Talk to a child’s caregivers to identify the best way to manage an injury/illness.
- Some children may have difficulty communicating that they are in pain or unwell. Watch for signs of pain such as grimacing. Encourage gestures or other methods of communication to work out what may be happening.
- For a child who is blind or low vision, talk aloud so they know what first aid is being applied
It is important to look after your own health and wellbeing. Self-care is considered an important professional development activity for teachers. Engaging in self-care practices means that you regularly practise activities in all aspects of your life that lower your stress and help you manage your emotional, physical and mental health. Some ideas to consider practising are:
- staying physically active throughout the day (e.g. go for a short walk at lunchtime and exercise before or after work)
- taking breaks
- setting up a peer-support group
- finding a mentor or more experienced colleague to discuss work with
- engaging in professional training
- asking for help when you need it
- celebrating small and big successes and milestones (yours, and your students’)
- meditation, mindfulness and relaxation techniques
- keeping a non-work hobby
- making time to be with friends and family
- For more resources on mental health in the workplace, visit https://www.headsup.org.au/
AllPlay Learn stories
AllPlay Learn primary stories have been designed for students to help them to find out about what happens at school and to feel positive about responding to new situations. Teachers can recommend these stories to students and parents to help them feel confident about participating in all school activities.