Visual schedules are exactly what they seem, a schedule that is visual. These schedules can be written on paper, velcroed on a poster board, or programmed into a device (e.g. iPad). The visual schedule shows the individual the sequence of their tasks. These events are written in a vertical line and are then crossed off or taken off when completed. A visual schedule can be used in both a home or school setting to help children with sequencing and transitioning between activities throughout their day.
The format of a visual schedule allows the child to see the current task at hand and anticipate the tasks that come The child must learn about the visual schedule and how it works. This can be done by prompting the individual to go to the schedule, look at it, point to it, and help cross off items (or take off the icon). Visual schedules may help children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), have trouble focusing, or have difficulty transitioning from one task to the next.
Why do we use visual schedules?
Using a visual schedule can help an individual understand what is going to be happening next. This can help create a smoother transition from one activity to the next. Implementing this structure in transitions can also reduce anxiety and decrease unwanted behaviors. Understanding the sequence of events can also increase independence. If the child understands what is happening, they can transition to the next activity independently (without assistance from their teacher or therapist) and prepare themselves for what is coming next.
Visual schedules can also improve a child’s motivation. A visual schedule will show the child a preferred activity and when it will be happening. For example, the child will know they first have to sit for circle time before they get their snack. A visual schedule can also help the child do less motivating activities if they know there will be a motivating activity coming later.
How do we implement visual schedules?
At CST Academy, we use visual schedules throughout the whole day. The visual schedule is on a poster board listing each activity that will be occurring from beginning to end. Each activity is velcroed on the poster board with a picture next to it. After each activity is completed, the lead teacher takes off the completed activity saying “all done.” Then, explaining what will be happening next, while pointing to the picture on the visual schedule. Visual schedules are an essential tool we use at CST academy. They are adaptable and can be individualized to each classroom. Other visual schedules that can be used are weekly schedules, monthly schedules, individual schedules, and teaching skills.
If you have further questions about visual schedules and a therapeutic preschool program, click the purple button below or call 773-620-7800 to contact CST Academy, Chicago’s #1 therapeutic preschool program.