New School Year, New Schedule

Enrichment Therapies

July 26, 2023

Student raising had in school

By: Mallory Carr, M.A., CCC-SLP 

It’s that time of year when summer activities have slowed down and you are faced with the upcoming school year. This can quickly become a hectic time of the year, especially since your family’s daily routine is facing a change. 

In this post, we’re going to discuss some reasons why implementing a schedule for your young child is important and some concrete ways you can do this.

Executive Functioning Skills

First and foremost, schedules are important to build your child’s executive function skills. Executive function is a formal label to describe planning skills, transition skills, and self-regulation skills. Implementing a schedule teaches children how to organize their time, recognize when it is time to transition, and regulate behaviors related to transitioning. 

All of these skills are difficult and require years to develop fully. Starting children–even young children–with a schedule can make big improvements in their daily life. 

Use Visual Cues

Whatever your day-to-day looks like, whether there are daycare drop-offs or if you’re staying home, providing a visual schedule can help with the above-mentioned skills. You can create the schedule together and put picture cards onto the schedule together. You can use language like, “First, we go potty, then we brush our teeth, next we get dressed, last we eat breakfast, etc.” 

As you and the child complete tasks together, they get to take the picture cards off and maybe put them into a specially-decorated “done” box or bucket. 

Schedule Playtime 

In the afternoon or evening times when they have some opportunities for free time or free play, put those on the schedule as well! This way, your child gets to see that maybe they don’t get to play with their favorite toy all night. This sets an expectation that they will get to play, but they will have to clean up and put the toy away. With practice and persistence, this can significantly reduce tantrums or overall difficulties with transitions. 

Set Expectations

If you have an activity on your schedule that maybe your child doesn’t like as much (like going to the bank) or you want to commit more time to a specific activity (like reading), you can put those activities in front of a highly preferred activity, like TV or iPad time. Reviewing the schedule before activities are completed sets expectations for their day and can actually make you less of the “bad guy” if it’s time to do something they don’t want to do. 

For example, if it’s time to help with chores, you can talk about how the schedule says so, so you both have to do it. While this may render protest initially, it teaches valuable lessons about inhibiting and controlling big emotions, as well as delayed gratification.

Stay Consistent and Get Support Where You Need It

Starting and sticking to a schedule can take a lot of extra time and effort, but it is so worth the lessons it teaches! There are at-home visual schedules available to purchase online, but feel free to research or make your own!

As always, don’t hesitate if you feel like your child could benefit from some extra support. At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center, we provide high-quality services to increase each child’s skills and God-given abilities. We partner with parents and other caregivers to promote the generalization of skills and strategies. If you have concerns about your child’s development, please contact us!

info@enrichmenttherapies.com

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317

319-626-2553

 infodm@enrichmenttherapies.com

5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131

515-419-4270

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