Ah yes. Transitions are something that need to be present in pretty much all learning environments.
Have you ever had a conversation with somebody, and the person gets up mid-sentence and walks out of the room or changes the subject? Or have you ever been in a classroom where the teacher changes from one subject to another without any lead in?
In both of those scenarios, transitions are the problem.
What prompted me to write this tonight is because I had a conversation today with a friend of mine. He is a really great person to talk with, but he has this really bad habit of ending the conversation abruptly. He isn't rude, he just ends the conversation when he's done. The first few times that this happened, I smiled to myself, and thought wow... his Mom maybe never taught him about transitions.
I try to always take situtions in my personal life and turn them into an educational moment. About 2 weeks ago, I asked my friend if he knew what transitions were. I explained to him that for some people, their brain is following along with the conversation, and even if the conversation is or should be drawing to a close, sometimes people need a cue or signal to indicate that the conversation is drawing to a close. I explained to him that for people like me that has a fast moving brain, I am already far ahead onto the next subject so that when he decides the conversation is over, I am a few minutes ahead talking about something else.
For children, transitions are paritcularly important because their attention spans are much shorter. Children that have learning challenges such as ADD or even Bipolar, any amount of change can throw off their behavior.
I receive a lot of letters from teachers all over the world that have trouble with children moving from one learning center to another. My answer is usually very simple, transitions!
One method that I have used in the past was to use colorful/fun timers. You can pick them up pretty reasonably at a kitchen store. My favorite was a pink, it oinked when the time was up. I would set the timer 5 minutes before the rotation to the next center. The kids would hear the timer, and I would guide them with simple language to start cleaning up. The timer would be set for 5 more minutes, and then when the timer went off, the children would move to the next center.
I used this method with different age groups. You can use transitions by huming a tune, singing a song, and sometimes even dimming the lights as a signal.
Even today, I like to use transitions to let readers know what is coming up next. This gives everyone a chance to prepare for what is ahead.