Tool 1: Get Ready, Get Set

Audio for Get Ready, Get Set

Page 17 in the course packet.

Main Point

Giving a child advance notice about an upcoming change of activity or focus. 


Moving young children from one activity to the next can be traumatic for both child and adult. Here’s an approach that can do much to smooth out those potentially rough times.

A few minutes before you change a child’s focus, get the child’s full attention. Tell him what is going to happen next and how soon. However, when you say you are leaving in 5 minutes, for example, be sure to leave in 5 minutes!


It’s the end of the day. Brandon is having a great time on the play ground at the park. He would love to play on and on. However, his father needs to leave, but he doesn’t want to create a big fuss as they go.

Wisely, Brandon’s father gives Brandon some preparation space with the notice,

“Brandon, we need to leave in 5 minutes.”

Then, after 5 minutes, Brandon’s father says that it’s time to go. He takes Brandon by the hand, helps Brandon say “good-bye” to his friends and leaves, probably without incident.

How did this happen so easily? Brandon’s father gave him time to complete his work or play cycle. In other words, he treated his son with the respect that he expects Brandon to return to him. 



  1. This tool is normally quick and free of resistance from the child.
  2. It avoids thoughtless, negative verbiage from the child’s supervising adult.
  3. It helps to avoid possible conflict or trauma.
  4. It gives the adult a reference or anchor point in saying it’s time to change.
  5. It encourages the completion of a task (recognizes the child’s “work cycle”).


  1. The child may come to expect a time warning all the time and could create a hassle if he doesn’t get it.
  2. The adult needs to be firm and follow through with his time commitment... not “fudge” in response to the child’s pleas for more time.
  3. The child may challenge the announced amount of time left for the present activity. 

Complete and Continue