What’s The Deal With Visual Schedules?

Many of us thrive on schedules! Whether you make a note of all of the things you want to accomplish on a piece of paper or notes app or you schedule your appointments in your calendar all roads lead back to feeling organized and knowing what comes next. Just like adults, children thrive when they have schedules that are predictable. Sometimes not knowing what comes next or ending one thing and moving on to another can be a source of frustration for our kiddo’s. Transitions when predictable are usually also more successful. A visual schedule is a great tool to use to help your child know what to expect. These can be especially useful tools during the pandemic when the routine of going to school has been disrupted.

Tips for creating a visual schedule:

1) First think about the activities that usually take place in your child’s day.

2) Next create pictures using word, Boardmaker or if your child does best with actual pictures you can use google images or take pictures using your camera.

3) Decide whether you want to create a full day schedule or half day schedule.

4) Think about flexibility – does the schedule need to travel with you or can it stay in one spot in the house? Would your child respond best if the schedule is ordered horizontally or if presented vertically?

Set yourself up for success with prevention strategies!

1) Be aware of the time of demand: For example, if your child struggles with getting ready in time for school, move bath time to the evening instead of rushing in the morning.

2) Reward less desired activities with more desired activities: If math is less desired make sure that something fun is lined up right after such as snack or free time. This way the child will be more motivated to complete math in order to get to the next activity.

3) Establish a routine: Consistency with routine is the main ingredient in your recipe to success. Use the schedule daily for a few weeks in order to see its effects.

And remember – sometimes unpredictable things happen in our day that require us to be flexible, this is an important teachable moment. When first using a visual schedule, we want to reduce the number of times this happens, however gradually over time you may start to gently make 1 to 2 modifications to the schedule. Have your child join in by helping to move around the pictures or selecting the order the activities go in after the changed event!