Stopping one thing and starting another

Many children need time to stop one thing and start another – this is because the “switching” parts of the brain develop more slowly than others.  Here are some ideas to help:

  • use a visual timetable so that children can see what is happening during the day.  This helps them feel secure, but also to understand that one thing follows another.  It can be for a whole day, or for some specifics.  Click for some examples
  • give a child plenty of warning that a change is coming.  It may help to tell them what is next.  Something like, “We will need to stop playing soon, so that we can go to the shop and then see your friends at nursery.”
  • Sometimes a simple “egg timer” count down can be helpful
  • if it is something the child particularly likes doing, it can be helpful to let them know when they can do it again.  But allow time and persuasion for them to “unstick”.
  • It is useful if the next thing can be quite absorbing – this helps the child disconnect from what they were doing.  So if you have to stop playing to go shopping, make the getting ready fun and engaging (songs, child has a job, etc)

And here are some games from Play@Home that can grow the skills:

  • Follow the leader (play@home, preschool, page 30)
  • Animals in the zoo (play@home, preschool, page 32)
  • Walk tall (play@home, preschool, page 34)
  • Statues (play@home, preschool, page 42)
  • Hoops (play@home, preschool, page 64)