Return to Headlines

Social & Emotional Health Corner: Managing Transitions

Change and transitions can be exciting -- but also challenging.
There are many ways parents and teachers can help children have an easier time managing transitions, but it may take a little experimentation to find out what "clicks" with each particular child. Here are tips on how to help children navigate change. 
  • Create routines. Having a predictable structure in place can be reassuring and helpful.
  • Preview and count down. Lay out what the day is going to look like. Then before the transition, give a timeframe and description of what will happen along with countdowns.
  • Visual cues. Chart and/or drawings about expectations or the steps involved in the transition. 
  • Get their attention. Make a connection by gaining eye contact, sitting next to them, hand on shoulder or having them repeat back what was said. 
  • Implement appropriate consequences. If transition is not going well, ignore minor infractions and focus on effort. If misbehavior occurs provide logical and appropriate consequences.
  • Praise good transitioning. Recognize when things go well and point out specific details about what the child did correctly.

Some students will be transitioning to a new school next year and may need assistance with the stresses that often accompany these changes. 

Here are some tips to help with the transition to a new school:

Visit the new school. Attend the school's back-to-school day (dates and times vary, check the BISD website in late July for details). Seeing what the school looks like can be helpful in dispelling worries. Elementary aged students may wish to play on the school playground and become familiar with what recess will look like. 

See if your student can meet some of her teachers or the guidance counselor. Having students make a connection with a few adults can make them feel more comfortable. 

Do a walk-through. Walk through what a typical day is going to look like, including transportation to/from school, classes, lunchtime and after-school activities. 

Clothes. This is a source of stress for a lot of students. Help your child think beforehand about how he wants to present himself/herself that first day.

Mornings. Two weeks before school starts, get everyone used to going to bed and getting up earlier.

Encourage self-advocacy. Allow for natural consequences, stop rescuing and focus on growth rather than grades. 

Keep your communication and connection strong. Become involved in their interests and carve out some time each day to spend together. 

For a list of transition resources (including first day of school, transition to middle and high school and life after school) visit:

- JoAnna Rockwood, Behavior Health Specialist & School Psychologist for BISD