Transition - AAARRGHHH!!

If you're reading this, it's probably because you have a student or two who really struggle with transition. This means that they generally struggle trying to go from one thing to the next i.e changing sessions, changing location/classroom, changing type of session - sitting to PE for example and finally for sudden changes in routine. 

Transition is really hard for some students to understand, more so, those on the autistic spectrum. There are so many different ways that we can support our students with transition, it's just going to take you a lot of trial and error until you find the system that works best for your student(s). 

First of all, take a look around your classroom. Picture yourself as a student who speaks a different language and you can't read anything around you, the teacher is talking in a different language and telling you to do something but you don't understand, then you're being directed to sit and work, just as you start to understand the idea of the work and settle down, you're being directed to go elsewhere. 

Is there anything in the classroom that can be used to support you to know what's coming next? Can you work out what's happening throughout the day? How long you have left of an activity? 

If the answer is no then let's get started on some ideas, if the answer is yes and your student(s) is still struggling with transition, don't worry - its just a case of trying to find something more suitable for them and their individual needs, you may just have to find a new way to aide with their transition.

Here are some ideas..


Whether you decide to have a whole class timeline or individual timelines or both is entirely up to you. A class timeline is great if every student does the same thing throughout the day and it means you can refer to it throughout the day and it will probably be large enough to be seen from around the room. However, if you have students who access different things throughout the day, go home at different times etc. then your individual timelines are probably best. Each student will have their own timeline catered to their own individual day. With a timeline, you can either leave it full throughout the day or encourage your student(s) to remove the symbols are they complete the task then show them what is coming next. The timeline is also great if an unexpected change happens, it means you can support the student in so many different ways - show them you are changing it, support them to change it to the new activity etc.

Transition Board

This is great in that you can put it wherever you like around the classroom - ours is on the back of our classroom door. We have a few different images of what would be a possible outcome when we leave class i.e houses (for home), dinner table (for dinner), bus (for trips), playground (for playtime) etc. Also on this board are little pictures of each students face, throughout the day the students move their faces to the appropriate image on the board for where they are going next. It helps them to realise where they are going, you won't believe how many times we had students think they were going on the bus only to realise they were going to assembly etc. So this transition board has seriously been a life saver, students already know where they will be going and can accept that before their imagination runs wild and they start thinking of endless possibilities!


Ok, so in this crazy World of technology you've probably realised now that there is a song for everything you can imagine. We use songs a lot throughout the day and they are really successful, seriously as soon as the students hear a song come on they come running over because they know what it means!

We use songs for; dinner time, play time, goodbye (end of the day), swimming etc. Just look on youtube and see if you can find some songs for different activities that will help you and your students prepare for transition.

Timing Issues

A lot of students just don't realise how long they have for different activities, it may be that time has run out quicker than they thought it would or it feels like the activity is going on foreeeeeeeever for them, so what better way than to show them how to record time. This could be through so many different things that are cheap enough or even free for you to get in the classroom. The following are all great ideas:
  • Sand Timers
  • Kitchen timers - the one that buzzes when time is up
  • Digital timers - on the iPad or computer

Table Mats

I am not even lying here - you're probably sat here reading this thinking, table mats? What?! Well actually, did you know you can get a lot of different theme table mats? We have a table mat for every different topic. The table mat goes onto the table that the activity is going to be on and it works wonders - seriously! You can get ones with cookery stuff on to use for cooking, we have a green spotty one for choice, we have a plain silver one for iPad work, we have one full of food for snack time - it really does help the students with transition.

So, this is just a roundup of some great transition ideas that we find really work in the classroom for transition. What do you find works in your classroom for supporting your students with transition? I love hearing all the different ideas everyone use in their own classes!

Thanks for stopping by,


  1. Love that you've addressed the issue of transitions. So often, transitions are where we "lose" our students--to time, to location, and especially (in adolescents) to peers and peer interaction. Pre-teaching, posting schedules, using charts to follow and finding a comprehensible way to monitor or record time are all great helpers. Even trips to the bathroom and water fountain can be opportunities to teach how long something takes. Great ideas on this blog! Thank you!

  2. I love the idea of the table mats idea to add another visual prompt for the children. I also love the transition board. We already use visual timetables, using communicate in print but that would again be another great visual reminder for where the children are going next. Shame I only have my current little complex class for 5 more weeks otherwise I would seriously contemplate introducing it. I think it might be useful for my next class although they are not as complex and already have some good approaches in place that work, so I am hoping to keep some consistency for them in that sense.


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