A visual schedule is an excellent tool that can be used with children of all ages. Before a child can even read, a visual schedule can be utilized using pictures instead of words.
Visual schedules can be helpful across various settings including schools, home, therapy clinics and many more.
A visual schedule can reduce anxiety in children. It provides independence, it eases transitions, it teaches accountability and it helps with sequencing and planning. A visual schedule provides predictability and structure which, so many kids need.
Visual schedules can be used for the class as a whole but also for the individual child. Sometimes a child needs his/her own visualization and the ability to check off the items completed in order to move on to the next task. The child can also have ownership in the schedule by allowing them to contribute in deciding the scheduled activities.
I utilize visual schedules often in therapy. For a younger child, I may only have a schedule of two activities so the child understands the “first and then” concept—first we complete X and then we get Y.
When working with an older child, I will allow the child to choose some of the items. For example, I will list six activities and I will choose items 1, 3 and 5 and the child will choose 2, 4 and 6. The child then feels ownership over the schedule and will be more motivated to engage.
Allowing the child to physically check off the items listed as they are completed is also very important as they feel satisfaction that they know what has been completed and what still needs to be completed.
Many children thrive with routine and structure and utilizing a visual schedule helps create a concrete plan for the child.
I often have parents who ask for advice on how to help morning/bedtime routines. My answer is almost always to create and routine and a visual schedule. For example: 1. Get out of bed. 2. Go to the bathroom and brush teeth. 3. Get dressed (clothing that has already been prepared). 4. Eat breakfast in kitchen. 5. Pack school bag.
Each of these can be further broken down for those who need. Schedule for getting dressed: 1. Take off pajamas. 2. Put shirt on. 3. Put pants on. 4. Put socks on. 5. Put shoes on, etc.
Incorporating a visual timer is also very helpful so the child knows and understand how long each task should be. Visual sand timers are great for children who are still learning the concept of time. The time timer clock is great for a child who has a concept of time but needs to see how much time is remaining for the task.
You can also make the visual schedule a fun activity to do with your child by creating the template for it and then utilizing the schedule in multiple scenarios. Velcro boards are always a favorite of mine and can be made at home easily with paper, Velcro and a laminator (if you have but it’s not a must).
If you have any questions regarding your child and how to incorporate a visual schedule into his/her day, you can email me at [email protected]
The Therapy Gym, owned by Dr. Elisheva Fuchs, is the leading pediatric therapy center in Bergen County. The Therapy Gym provides physical, occupational, speech, behavioral and aquatic therapy as well as many classes for kids. Only the best, highly skilled and trained therapists work at the gym to help each child reach his or her potential. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, call The Therapy Gym at 201-357-0417 or email [email protected] You can also follow The Therapy Gym on Instagram and Facebook to learn more tips.