In today’s blog, we will be focusing on what a visual schedule is, the different types of visual schedules, and the ways you can implement them at home.
What is a Visual Schedule?
Visual schedules can be a helpful tool for helping kids understand a sequence of activities or tasks. They can help kids anticipate what is coming next to minimize surprises and can be customized to each individual. There are different types of visual schedules, they can include only pictures, or pictures with a word/phrase associated and can be used for a many different types of activities, tasks, or events. They can be utilized to layout the events of an entire day or to break down an activity into step-by-step guides. Knowing what to expect can be extremely helpful for kids, especially when kids might be unfamiliar with an activity or task.
A ‘first-then’ board can be presented to show a child that something fun and exciting is coming after a task that they might not be crazy about completing. The task at hand is listed under the “first” column and the preferred activity is listed under the “then” column. For example, if you want your child to do their school work on the computer, and are then going to give them play time with their favorite toy, you might show them the visual schedule to indicate ‘first you have school work, then you can play with toys!’
A more comprehensive schedule, such as a picture schedule, can be used to outline a sequence of tasks or activities, or the steps in an activity. A daily schedule can be used to outline the activities within a child’s full day. This can be especially helpful right now as kids are getting used to changes with school expectations, whether that be in person or virtually.
Picture schedules can also be used to break down the steps needed to complete a complex activity. This visual schedule outlines all of the individual tasks needed in an afterschool routine.
It outlines first eat a snack, then take out homework, then do homework. Next, pack backpack, then play, then do chores, and finally eat dinner. For some kids, it might be important to mix in preferred activities between these less exciting tasks. In this example, play is already a part of the routine after completing homework. The order of activities can be customized for each child, incorporating as many preferred, or reinforcing, activities that are needed between the harder or less-preferred tasks. You can also have the pictures velcro-ed to the schedule, and you can remove each activity after it is completed or teach your child to remove each activity after they have finished.
With all of the changes to normal routines that we have experienced this year, a visual schedule can be used to alleviate some of that uncertainty. Visual schedules are so versatile that they can be customized for the age and skill level of each individual child, as well as for a variety of activities. When a visual schedule is used for a new or unfamiliar routine, it can help kids know what to anticipate and decrease the likelihood that they will be anxious or frustrated with the expectations. We hope you found this information helpful for incorporating visual schedules into your child’s daily routines!