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Sing It, Don’t Yell It with Transition Songs

transition songs

There is one classroom management strategy that I can NOT live without – Transition Songs.

When I was in college we had a lab school on site. I both trained and worked in the early childhood program there.  It was an amazing experience and I learned SO much.

It was such a serene place.  No one was yelling at the children to get them to behave…. which was a stark contrast to a daycare program I had to observe in for a research project…

At first I just assumed that since the teachers in the lab school were certified teachers, and the teachers at the daycare were not that this must be why one environment felt tense and the other not.

But, it took a trip to another daycare center to see what the real difference was.  See at this center, no one was yelling. No teachers were getting upset and it had the calm and serene vibe, just like the lab school did.  The teachers at this daycare center, did not have education degrees.

So, it was then I learned that the level of education the teacher had didn’t matter.  It was how they handled the situations that made the real difference.

They didn’t yell.  Instead they SANG.  << Yes, I said ‘sang’.

It was this day forward that I started singing everything while in the classroom.  >Now, I’m not talking singing songs from the radio or songs like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ (which we do sing, btw).  But, I’m talking about singing for transitions and any directions given.

SINGING transition songs is the one classroom management strategy I could not live without.  Mainly because it works.

I’ve been in this game for almost 15 years and from day 1 I’ve sang all my directions (even to my first graders).  It’s crazy but something magical happens when you sing….  the children listen.

How many times have your words gone in one ear and out the other?  How many times have you been able to perk up and sing along to song lyrics but not be able to remember what someone just said to you?

I’m sure there is some kind of science behind it – which I know nothing about… but who cares- it works!

So, if you are struggling to get your students to line up, sit on the rug, clean up, pack their bags or any of the other million and one things we have students do each day – hear this…. SING IT!

No, you don’t have to be Beyonce (kids don’t care). No, it doesn’t have to be from a CD or playlist (kids don’t care).  It doesn’t have to be perfect and you can even make up songs on the fly because…. kids don’t care.  Little kids are literally the least judgmental beings on the planet.  That is why they will tell you that you look pretty even after your hair has been wind blown at recess and you have someone’s snot on your shoulder.

The easiest ‘tune’ that I have created random songs for is ‘Farmer in the Dell’.  Some songs I sing: “Put your books away, put your books away, hi-ho the dairy-o, put your books away.”  I also sing “Sit down at the carpet, sit down at the carpet, everyone, everywhere, sit down at the carpet.”

See? Just insert your directions/task into Farmer in the Dell and give it a whirl!

Not only does singing (instead of yelling) create a calmer and more serene environment, it also is a much more respectful way to get children to do the things you want.  Just think about… you’d never like to be yelled at all day!

Hate to sing?  I challenge you to try to add one or two transition songs to your day for a transition or direction and see how it changes behavior… I’m guessing it might be magical!

Don’t know where to start with songs? I’ve got free transition song-  Learn more here.

Sidenote: I realize that this is a strategy that is not allowed in some schools and programs due to the COVID crisis.  But, keep this idea filed away for when singing is once again allowed!

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