Challenging Situations-Transition to New Classroom

Okay, I decided to change the name of our Friday series to Challenging Situations rather than behaviors. I find that most of the time it is the situation that causes the behavior and so we need to solve the situation rather than the behavior. Now, let's move on to this weeks situation:

It's that time of year when children move from one classroom to the next. This situation comes from a center who is moving two year olds up to the three year old classroom. Last week they moved 5 children slowly. Their transition looks like this:

Monday, children visit from after breakfast to before lunch
Tuesday, children visit from after breakfast to after lunch, but before nap
Wednesday, children visit from after breakfast to after lunch and are given the choice to nap in the new room. When they wake up they go back to the old classroom.
Thursday, children visit from after breakfast through nap and, if they want, the can stay.
Friday, children visit from after breakfast through the rest of the day.

These steps are flexible. If a child shows any signs of stress at any point they pull back a bit and try again tomorrow. Also, if a child so chooses, they can stay longer at any point as well. For the most part, however, the children are comfortable with this progression and, typically, there is one or two children who are so ready that the first day they pretty much stay in the new room all day.

It should also be noted that three months before this transition, the teacher in the new classroom visits the children in their classroom once a week for an hour during free choice. This gives them an opportunity to get comfortable with her as well as for her to get to know the children. The two's teacher can also help facilitate creating a relationship with the three's teacher so that the children know that she is someone they can go to for help.

At the same time that the three's teacher is visiting the classroom, the two's teacher begins to take the children into the new classroom once a week while the older children are outside playing. This gives the children an opportunity to check out the room at their leisure and find out where the bathroom, cubbies, sinks, and everything else is.

With all this work, transition week should be real easy on the children. For the most part, it is! However, this year they have twin boys (Kent and Charlie) who are having a tough time. Really, Charlie is having the most difficulty. It has been a week since they have been fully in that room and Charlie will even refuse to get out of the car. Kent will go, but reluctantly.

After talking to the two's teacher, it's discovered that they did the same thing when they started. So, this seems to be a pattern when there are major changes. They also, once settled into the classroom, are fine and participating in the new environment; so they have adjusted fairly well. It's just the new drop off routine that is shaking them up.

The solution: Since Kent is going, although reluctantly, he will continue to be dropped off in the new classroom. For a week, Charlie will be allowed to say goodbye in the two's classroom; but once mom has left and he has said goodbye, the two's teacher will take him to his new classroom. By the end of the second week, the teacher should be able to take his hand and, while saying goodbye, walk him to the new classroom.

With his brother already settled in the new room, this should help the transition. By the third week, the teacher may need to walk with the mom and Charlie, but mom should really be able to say goodbye in the classroom to both the boys on her own.

Though the transition week has gone by, Charlie obviously needs a little more time to adjust. Are we catering to his whim? No, we are catering to his need. That's a big difference! The easier we can make it on them the better they will adjust.

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