"Go upstairs, get yourself ready, and then we can go to the lake". Sounds easy doesn't it? Some kids (and adults too) struggle with these daily tasks and can quickly get overwhelmed and frustrated at the thought of completing a request like this. And let's not forget it can be frustrating to sound like a broken record on repeat as the person trying to get everything organized. But have you ever tried a visual schedule?
A visual schedule is a sequence of images and/or words that provide a child a clear expectation of what to do for a particular routine or task. It clearly lays out in an easy to follow format, the sequence events are expected to happen, as well as when the activity is over. This type of schedule is great for things like getting dressed, going to school, or using the washroom.
Visual schedules are helpful for a number of reasons, such as helping with transitions, reducing anxiety, increasing independence, and increasing flexibility.
Creating a visual schedule
Remember that this is supposed to be easy and appealing, so creating the schedule with your child is a great idea. You are likely to get a much bigger buy in if they were part of the planning and creating stages. It may get messy but that's half the fun isn't it?
This is also a great opportunity to model how to be flexible when things don't go as planned. Create some spaces in your schedule to allow for the unpredictable moments, use a blank visual or a question mark because some days don't go quite to plan.
Using a visual schedule
There are a few key points to consider when you are using a visual schedule to make it as successful as possible.