Environmental Cues to Help Transitions

  • Situation

    My child’s team tells me that he is very dependent on a paraprofessional to transition in the lunch room, from recess, and in the classroom. How can they help him to be more independent and not just wait for the adult to tell him when to come and go?

  • Summary

    Teaching environmental cues to a student, then waiting before prompting can be a strategy to teach a student higher independence. Environmental cues can include seeing students throw away their lunch trays, watching students line up, seeing students pass in the hallway.

  • Definition

    Environmental cues are cues around a person that inform them what is happening and how to respond. Teaching students about the cues that generally precede a transition may help them make a smoother, more independent transition.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 3-5, 6-10, 11-13
    • Planning Effort: Low
    • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Pre-requisites

    Necessary visuals

  • Process

    1. Assess the environment to determine what environmental cues exist in each transitional opportunity.

    2. Observe the student to determine current prompt levels and timing of prompts during transitions.

    3. Use verbal and visual strategies to teach the student what environmental cues can be used for specific settings – for example

    • Use video clips to demonstrate the cue. Use pictures to teach the environmental cue

    • In the actual settings, such as the cafeteria, wait until students are throwing out their trash, gesture to the student stating, “The kids are throwing out their trash…” then point to his tray

    • Gesture and state: “Look the students are lining up.

    • As days pass just gesture the cues to the student without telling him

  • Documents and Related Resources



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