Dismissal Strategies for Preschoolers

classroom management order review strategy transitions Dec 11, 2023

A mindfully managed classroom ensures the school day flows successfully. Having certain systems in place makes management nearly automatic. Students have the ability to manage themselves if the routines are consistent and allow for independence. One such system is how students are dismissed from group time. Whether students are transitioning from group time to centers, work cycle, or lining up to go elsewhere, the same system can be used in a multitude of ways. 


Dismissing students as individuals or small groups avoids chaos and confusion. The strategy you use to divvy up who gets dismissed when can change every day or week to week. It’s often easier to use the same strategy at the beginning of the year when students are still adjusting to classroom and school day routines. Here are variations according to a few different themes:



Dismiss students by name, but make it interesting. Whisper or mouth their name for a quiet transition, or sing a name song to involve everyone as the group gets smaller and smaller. Here is a list of name songs and games:

  • Hickety Pickety Bumblebee
  • Willaby Wallaby Wee
  • The Name Game
  • By the letter or sound a name starts with
  • By the letter or sound a name ends with
  • By a word that rhymes with a name
  • By how many letters are in a name
  • By how many syllables are in a name



Dismiss students in sets or according to a commonality; for example, you can call any student who is wearing something blue. Eventually you can give two criteria to be met, such as, any student who is wearing a dress and sandals. Later still, give negative criteria like, any student who is not five years old, or any student who is not wearing socks. Allow students to monitor themselves as much as possible. If someone is wearing the color given, but they don’t notice, don’t feel like you need to point it out. They might notice later, or a classmate might point it out, or they may simply fall into a different category. Here are more criteria that offer some new vocabulary and learning points:

  • Patterns: plaid, floral, graphics, etc.
  • Textures: flannel, tulle, sequins, cotton, knit, etc.
  • Birthdays: month, day, year
  • Details: pockets, snaps, buttons, zippers, laces, Velcro, etc.
  • Attributes: eye color, hair color, hair texture, hair length, etc.
  • Location: spots on the rug, what they are sitting near, how they are sitting, etc.


Exit Tickets

Some classrooms use physical printed tickets, but this isn’t necessary. Asking students a question when it is their turn can allow you to cater to the student. For example, while one student may be able to produce an answer independently, another student will be more successful picking the answer from a couple of choices. Shame should never be involved in this process. Remember that the goal is to manage transitions. Here are some ideas:

  • Ask questions from a book read at group time.
  • Ask for students’ opinions and encourage them to use a word no one else has used yet.
  • Review material presented or recently presented.
  • Ask for students’ preference; for example, “Do you prefer white chocolate or milk chocolate?”
  • Ask simple math facts.
  • Ask for the name or sound of a letter.
  • Present two objects, move and ask where the objects are in relation to each other. For example: place a pencil under a book and ask, “Where is the pencil?” 
  • Present a set of objects (shapes, colors, numbers, letters, random items, etc.) and ask students to name one or as many as they can.



Come up with different ways for students to move as they leave group time. You could choose how each student moves as they leave, sing a song that involves movement before they go and change the ending to fit what is happening next in your day, or play a game. Here are some ideas:

  • Tiptoe, crawl, backwards, bear crawl, twirling, hopping, hopping on one leg, jumping jacks, etc.
  • Sing, “Gary, Gary, jump up and down, jump up and down, jump up and down. Gary, Gary, jump up and down, then go to centers.”
  • Sing, “Let’s all look and see who’s wearing red. If you’re wearing red then please stand up. Put your finger on it. Show us that you found it. Put your finger on the color red. Line up.”
  • Sing, “Blue, blue is the color I see. If you’re wearing blue then show it to me. Stand up and turn around. Show us your blue and then choose work.” 
  • Play Simon Says, and as children are “out,” let them leave the group.
  • Have students play follow the leader and tap the leader to dismiss them, letting the next person be leader before they are dismissed.
  • Play London Bridge Is Falling Down, keeping track of who has been locked up and dismissing them after they have taken two turns locking someone else up.
  • Have students stand on one leg, dismissing them as they lose their balance. Make it more challenging the fewer students there are by having them hop or close their eyes.

There are innumerable ideas to use with this strategy. You will find more in the Lesson Plans part of the Bloom Preschool Curriculum package. Feel free to share your own ideas in our Facebook Group! We love to hear what you are doing in your classroom and are inspired by your creativity.