Transitions Between Activities
By: Carmen Willings
Updated November 4, 2017
Transitions between activities within the daily schedule can be stress producing times for students with visual impairments as they are leaving the familiar and moving to the unfamiliar, whether it is a different setting/area or the materials are changing.
Provide the student with verbal prompts in a calm voice and at the student’s level to prepare them for transitions. Keep in mind that students with visual impairments tend to be more resistant to change in general than their sighted peers. Change means going from the known to the unknown when you don’t have the advantage of seeing the signals that prepare you for what will happen next.
Prepare the student prior to the transition to help him get used to the idea, even if he doesn’t like it. Try to actively involve him in the process so that he feels that he has more control over the situation. It can also be helpful to incorporate transition songs (either sung or on a CD), clean up time songs, hello and good-bye songs, and provide reminders that an activity is about to end.
As the student explores, describe everything with variety, quality, and richness. Be sure to avoid over-protection. Remember that all children get bumps and scrapes occasionally. Safety is important, but over-protection can be just as detrimental to a student as under-protection. Also, keep in mind that students need to learn natural consequences. Allow students to run into corners, walls, and furniture, but be sure to soften the blow by placing your hand or body in between them and anything that could hurt them. You do not want the student to get hurt, but they do need to learn there are natural consequences for not trailing, using proper protection techniques or proper cane skills. Remember to NEVER let a student get hurt and be particularly careful on stairs and bleachers.
Learning Opportunities Through Transition
Incorporate speaking and listening skills into the transitions by listening for, identifying, and imitating sounds in the environment. Take advantage of transitions and down times (like waiting to use the restroom or waiting for all students to enter or be ready for instruction) to work on following directions, and to play word games, puzzles, riddles (if I say up, you say ___) and to incorporate concepts such as like/different, in/out, up/down, over, wide/narrow, depth, thick/thin, hard/soft, front/back, numbers and shapes. Transitions are also a good time to work on following one step and multi-step directions.
Students’ needs and abilities will generally vary greatly within your classroom. It is important to provide a wide range of learning opportunities that are scaffold and multi-leveled for the population you serve. Think about the individual needs of each student when considering adaptations and the depth and level of instruction. Many of the adaptations that are beneficial and needed for the visually impaired student will also provide concrete experiences for the other students in your classroom. Also, using real materials is a way to make instruction more age appropriate for older students.
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