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Top tips for using music to help children make transitions

Using simple songs, chants or recorded music to help children make transitions is like having a teacher superpower in your back pocket.

When my kids were younger I introduced the 'clean-up-hoedown'. I'd play some funky tunes, give each person a task and we'd get busy! Not only did it make the chores fun, but we all felt more socially connected in the experience.

paper cut outs of multicultural children playing in a circle

Here are some simple tips to make transitions with music easy and fun for you too:

  1. If you're having trouble getting your children to pay attention when you speak, try singing your instructions instead. Music activates a different part of the brain to speech - the playfulness and shift in tone will help you gain and hold attention.

  2. Consider where you want the energy to go next when selecting your recorded music or song to sing. We don't just 'hear' music, we 'feel' it. Music is multi-sensory – it activates our brains, bodies and nervous systems to respond. Choosing the right music can reset the energy in the room, eg: gentle music soothes us after an energetic playtime and upbeat music can energise us after a quiet time.

  3. Keep it simple. There's no need for transition songs or chants to be complicated. Try repurposing a familiar song with words that express the intention or instruction. Music is structured – its familiar patterns and rhythms soothe children who may feel overwhelmed when being called to shift from one activity to another. Structure = feelings of safety, security and a sense of control.

Here are some examples of songs I've repurposed for transition times ...

TOP TIP: As children become familiar with your transition songs they'll join in the singing. If you sense they're becoming too familiar and tuning out, try surprising them with a change in lyric or tempo.


YOUR SPECIAL BONUS! A GOOD MORNING PLAYLIST! Mornings are the ultimate transition moment for little ones in our care. I've compiled this awesome Spotify Playlist - 'Good Morning Sunshine' of favourite songs to help children (and you) feel nurtured, peaceful and happy. We can't wait to hear about your adventures with musical transitions!

We're so happy you've found our little pocket of the playground.

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