Last week I attended a hot yoga class where the teacher focussed on "transitions." Acknowledging that the poses were significantly important, she challenged us to concentrate on smooth, graceful passages from one to the next. "We all want to master the poses, but today I want you work on the transition between each one. That is just as crucial," she explained.
The definition of 'Transition' is as follows: The passage from one form, state, style or place to another. In yoga this meant concentrating on breath, avoiding fidgeting, and preparing your body. It means coming back to a sense of calm in anticipation of the next move. As I worked on this in my class, I began to think of facilitating children's groups.
Transitions are vitally important in group, especially when you are with kids all day. Just like a yoga practice, moving smoothly and gracefully from one activity to the next is crucial. In my experience training other professionals, it's often a piece that is overlooked.
What are some key things to remember when working on transitions in group?
Bring the group back to zero.
Take a breath. Pause. If you have just completed an energetic activity and are moving into a calmer one, allow for some quiet. Children will get the message that the next task at hand requires a different kind of energy.
Change the space.
You've spent a significant amount of time on an emotional activity and you are about to change gears. How do you make this transition? Change the room. If you can't move somewhere else, then take a break or play a game. Rearranging the room during a bathroom break is always an option. Remember, space holds onto energy, and everyone feels it.
Model the energy and set the tone.
Use your voice and body language to transition from one activity to the next. If it's time for some excitement, show them! If it's time for some quiet, lower your voice. It's okay to state clearly that you are moving into a serious (or not) theme. Use soft music as a tool to calm the group when needed.
Act like you are ready for the next thing (even if you aren't.)
We know that being prepared is important, but sometimes the best laid plans fall apart. An activity doesn't take as long as we anticipated, and now we have 15 extra minutes to fill which can potentially feel like a lifetime with a group of twelve kids. This kind of transition can be difficult. If not done smoothly, you can lose the group. Have some games in your "back pocket" to pull out. Act as if you were prepared and try not to allow a lull in the energy. Kids will follow your lead and go with the flow.
Smooth transitions make for smooth groups. The ebb and flow of the schedule should feel natural. Pay attention to the small details as you move through your session. And just like in yoga, don't forget to breathe!