As the end of the year draws near, you may notice children getting anxious, excited, or even disruptive. This is a normal response to the anticipation they are feeling about the transition from your class (or school) to the next. It's important to acknowledge children's feelings and create group-time discussions about the "big" transition ahead. It's best to approach this head-on. At group time, explain to children what you're noticing in the classroom climate. Invite them to share what they're feeling and experiencing. Collectively, discuss ways to deal with any tensions or sadness. Talk about next year and be available to answer any questions.
Interestingly, "transitions" themselves can in fact be one of your best tools for managing behavior-especially if you look at an expanded definition of the word. Transitions are much more than "getting from here to there" activities. Consider using transition "breaks" throughout the day as well as during group time. These quick interludes can positively redirect attention, release extra energy and tension, calm children, and gently guide their behavior.
Create Calming Breaks
How do you calm a group of active children who may be behaving in chaotic ways? Try using a beautiful stone or other object. Call children into a seated circle. Place a beautiful stone, crystal, or rock in the center. (Large stones are best so children can't put them in their mouths or be tempted to throw them.) Invite children to look at the rock for a few moments. (It's good to change the object frequently to keep children's interest.) Then you might say, "I am going to pick up the stone, and feel it as I hold it for a few moments. When I am finished, I will pass it to the person next to me to hold for awhile. "We will continue to silently pass the stone from person to person until it gets back to me."
Play the Quiet Game
The flip side of making noise is listening for it. Of course, the only way to hear sounds is to be quiet. Use this activity to quiet a noisy day. It will help children become aware of sound and the power of quiet Invite children to sit or lie down comfortably in a space where they can hear your voice. You might say, "We are going to be very still and quiet so we can hear all the sounds around us. Let your body relax into the floor so that you feel like a puddle. It might help if you close your eyes and open your ears. Without telling me, think about the sounds you are hearing. What can they be? Where are they coming from? Feel the sounds. Feel the quiet between the sounds. Now listen and feel the sounds inside you. Feel the quiet inside you, too. Rest and breathe the quiet inside you." After a pause, ask everyone to slowly open their eyes and look around the room. Welcome them back.
Take "Spin Breaks"
Is the classroom's energy spinning? Stop it by exaggerating it. Exaggeration is a wonderful way to eliminate or change a mood or action. When children deliberately experience a behavior they're doing unconsciously, they can actually exhaust and change it. Use a signal to get children to stop what they are doing and "freeze." Say, "Okay we're going to take a spin break. Stand up and put your arms out to your sides just like you're a half-opened umbrella. You can make sure you won't bump somebody by taking one slow spin around. When I count to three, everyone will spin around until I say stop. Then quickly lie down on the floor right where you are. Ready? One, two, three, spin!" Don't let children spin too long or they will get dizzy. When children are lying on the floor, invite them to take a deep breath and feel the "spin inside" that continues even after they stop moving. Tell them they can go back to their previous activity when the spinning inside stops.
Shout It Out
Is the noise level in the room getting much too high? Taking it a few steps higher can actually lower the noise. Often children make noise because they need to. Trying to quiet them without acknowledging this need may work for a while, but it's just a bandage for the situation. By inviting children to make sounds in different ways, you can exhaust their need to shout. You might say, "Did you notice that we're shouting really loudly today? Let's do it together. Watch me. I will be the conductor of the "shouting orchestra." When I give you the signal, start shouting and get louder as I move my hands up. Stop shouting when I use my hands to show "stop." Do this a few times to get all of those shouts out.
You might want to invite children to try making other kinds of sounds as well. Turn shouts into silly sounds such as a "bleep" or a "blurp." You can play this like a follow-the-leader game, where you make a silly sound and they echo it back to you. By the time you are finished, they will be laughing and will have quieted down.