How Can I Support My Child with Visual Schedules?

Enrichment Therapies

June 26, 2020

Have you ever wondered if visual schedules may help your child? Does your child have difficulty transitioning from activity to activity, or place to place? There are many ways to support children with transitions and visual schedules are a great option. As adults we often use some sort of a visual schedule to stay organized: to-do lists, planners, and sticky notes are just a few examples. 

What is a Visual Schedule? A visual schedule demonstrates upcoming events or activities through visual supports such as pictures, words, or tangible objects. Visual schedules may tell a student what is happening next, when it is happening, and maybe even where it will take place. Visual schedules can range in complexity. Some students may benefit from two pictures (i.e first/then) and some may benefit from having their entire day scheduled. 

Why would I use a visual schedule? As previously mentioned, most adults use visual schedules/ supports daily. They help students know what is coming next and can take the uncertainty out of an unfamiliar activity or event. Change can be difficult for many students, and visual supports can decrease stress and anxiety around new situations because they can SEE what they will be doing when. It can also help older students stay organized and know what they have to do and when they have to have it completed. 

My child would benefit from a visual schedule, but now what? The first step is the figure out the best design for your student. It is important to take into consideration things like comprehension level, attention span, sequencing ability, and interest level. It is important to present the information in a way that will be meaningful and fun for your child. There are high-tech options on tablets, phones, as well as low-tech options with objects or paper supports.

When may my child benefit from a visual schedule? Every child is different in their needs, however, some common times that visual schedules can be beneficial include: academic tasks (i.e. homework), transitioning from a preferred activity to a nonpreferred activity (i.e. transitioning from the park back home), chores, doctor/dentist visits, unfamiliar events such as moving or going to a new school. 

Schedules are important for children of all ages, however, it will look different for all students. It is important to feel comfortable with the tools you are using and to make sure that they are practical for the situations at hand. If the tools are too complicated or are not practical for challenging situations, they won’t be used or won’t be effective. Your child’s Speech-Language Pathologist can help answer questions and determine an appropriate level if you are unsure. 

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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