When kids have to transition from one activity to the next, these are ripe opportunities for behavior issues to occur. As a leader, you might feel like things are running smoothly right up until you say, “Okay, time for Large Group!” Then you find yourself trying to control the chaos! Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you avoid messy transitions.
Set clear routines for each part of club time.
This is especially important at the very beginning and the very end of club time(these present the most opportunity for chaos to ensue). Make time to talk about your routines and expectations to your students. Here are just a few examples of routines that can help transitions:
- Have students sit in rows with their small group and leader during large group.
- Set a“starting point” for game time where children know to line up in a designated spot to receive instructions for play.
- After closing in prayer in small groups, instruct students to always get their backpacks and line up in a specific place for a ticket raffle.
If routines and expectations are clear, it’s easier for kids to follow them, and for leaders to enforce them. Some leaders reward students with tickets for being ready quickly for the next activity.
Choose a transition signal.
A signal can be helpful for communicating “It’s time to finish up what you’re doing, we’re moving to the next thing.” This could be a whistle, an attention cue (e.g. clapping or chant), or a song that you play every time kids are expected to transition to the next activity.
Practice makes perfect!
Not quite, but it makes it smoother! Don’t just tell kids what they should do when transitioning from part of club to the next, but show them and actually have them practice it. Instruct your group to pretend like they are doing an activity and upon hearing your signal or instruction, see how quickly and orderly they can move to do what they are supposed to do next. Here are some examples of transitions to practice:
- Checking in right away and getting name tags
- Lining up for the bathroom
- Moving from large group game time to designated places for small group
- Cleaning up snack and sitting down for large group
Make it fun by timing them to see how fast the group can do it!
The first few weeks of club are the best time to set the expectations, but it’s never too late to stop and dedicate time to teaching your students the routines and procedures for making club run smoothly. It will save you a lot of time in the long run if you aren’t struggling to keep your club time organized and flowing smoothly each week. And the less time you spend managing chaotic transitions, the more time you have left for engaging students in learning and relationships.