What is a Visual Schedule?
Visual Schedules are supports that provide your child with information around what will happen during various times throughout the day. They can include a variety of formats, such as cartoons, pictures, and written lists. Visual schedules can outline the activities happening throughout an entire day, during specific routines (e.g., morning or bedtime), or to display steps required to complete a task (e.g., washing hands or getting dressed).
Why are visual schedules important?
Visual schedules allow your child to see what is coming up next and understand the sequence of activities. By using a visual schedule, your child’s routine will become more predictable and expectations will be made clear. There are many benefits to using visual schedules, including:
- Teaching new skills such as brushing teeth or doing laundry
- Increasing your child’s independence in daily routines
- Increasing behaviours you want to see by providing clear rules, expectations or steps for completion
- Providing structure to your child’s day and decreasing downtime
- Reducing anxiety, uncertainty and repetitive question asking
- Promoting flexibility and understanding of changes in daily routines
- Promoting time management
- Make visual schedules durable by laminating the printed visual supports and back up any app, photos and pictures
- Place visual schedules at eye level and in different places throughout your home
- Promote generalization by introducing visual supports gradually and build up a collection of various symbols and tasks
- No printer? No problem! Cut out pictures from flyers or magazines, use product packaging, or use a whiteboard or paper and pen drawings
- Child is resistant? Begin by introducing activities or tasks that your child usually completes willingly and successfully
- Lack of independence? Reinforce practice attempts or improvement, and remember to reduce your physical support over time
- What if my child is older, or is resistant to pictures? Use word schedules or use visual schedule apps, such as Visual Schedule Planner or Choiceworks. Show your child that you also use visual schedules in the form of to-do lists and smartphone calendars