Visual Schedules

A visual schedule is a set of picture cards that represents a sequence of events or activities. It is helpful for children who need help transitioning for one task to another task. Visual schedules can be used in many places and made in different ways.

Grady checks out the Green Class visual schedule

Grady checks out the Green Class visual schedule

Each child can use a visual schedule in a different way. Some will just need to look at the schedule in order to see what is coming next.  Other children might like to remove a task after it has been completed before moving on to the next activity.  These schedules are great to use both at home or in school.  You can even make a mobile one to use on the go!

Every visual schedule is different. Some have both words and pictures, while others have only pictures.  An older child’s schedule may just have words. Some schedules are set up for a whole day’s worth of activities, while others might just contain an afternoon’s schedule.

Eli uses a visual schedule with Miss Katherine

Miss Katherine guides Eli in how to use his visual schedule to help prepare him for the next activity. He loves checking out what comes next!

One important thing to remember about making your visual schedule is that the pictures you use need to be an accurate description of the activity. If at all possible, you should use a photograph of the actual activity being performed.  The main thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to use a visual schedule as long as it works for the child it is intended for!

David shows an example of a Circle Time picture card from a visual schedule-it has a photo of what Circle Time looks like!

 DIY (Do It Yourself!)

  1. Decide how you want to use your visual schedule. Do you want to post it in your classroom or home? Or do you want it to be mobile?  Use whatever materials work best for how you will use your visual schedule.  Some example materials for the background of your visual schedule include card stock, cardboard, and laminated construction paper.  Make sure to pick some soothing or favorite colors of the child who will be using the schedule.
  2. Find and print pictures of each event that is performed on a weekly basis. Include a card with a “surprise” label for those moments when an activity comes up unexpectedly.
  3. Laminate each picture and put Velcro on the back of each picture. Also put Velcro on the background material. Set up your visual schedule in the order of your activities.
  4. Introduce the schedule to your child by continually showing them what activity you are doing and telling them what activity is coming next.  Some children will catch on and begin to look at the schedule on their own, while others will require you to keep showing them the schedule.
  5. After you get started you will begin to get a feel for what is best for your child. Be creative and don’t be afraid to think outside the box on ways to use your visual schedule!
Grady hopes you have fun making your own visual schedule!

Grady hopes you have fun making your own visual schedule!

by Katherine Vuocolo, Blue Class Teacher

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