What is a Visual Schedule?
Visual schedules are wonderful behavioral tools for kids that help families communicate and operate with less stress. Simply put, they use pictures to communicate a sequence of events, a plan, or an expectation to a child. They are different than a kids calendar because they actually have psychological benefits that improve behavior versus just supplying information about the date, weather, and holidays.
Why do they work?
Visual schedules tap into a child’s visual learning center. This is a pretty powerful place because pictures activate visual learning skills that otherwise go untapped when we only communicate verbally. Supporting our messages and expectations with visuals not only reinforces and strengthens our communication, but it also allows the child to take the time they need to absorb the information. When kids can see what’s next, you’ll be surprised what behavioral changes occur.
How can they help my family?
Establishing routines, teaching self-management, setting expectations, transitioning through activities, and handling meltdowns are “par for the course” for any parent. But these common parenting tasks can be made more difficult with certain personality types and particularly hard to navigate if a child has been diagnosed with something like ADD or Autism. Below is a list of traits that can make these tasks challenging for parents. Click on each one, or the one you relate to, to learn how a visual schedule can begin to reduce your daily parenting struggles.
If your child craves control, you have probably had your fair share of power struggles. The battle of wills can be an exhausting one and some very willful children can fight tooth and nail to win. The secret is that the child often only needs “perceived control” to alleviate this issue. Many children will behave as long as the believe they are the ones making the decisions. Visual schedules not only takes the “us vs them” feeling down several notches, but also does it in a way that give the child a satisfying sense of control.
Quick Tip → Pick a few acceptable activities and ask your child to choose which one he/she wants to do. This way you have already pre-selected things you are ok with, but your child gets to make the final decision. OR, if you have a certain routine you need accomplished and the actual activities are not flexible, let your child select the order. Both of these options will accomplish the goal of perceived control.
Different things make us anxious. For some it’s the unknown and this can be true for many children. If you have an anxious child or a child who likes to know what’s next, showing them in advance with a visual schedule can calm a child down tremendously. Some kids worry about change or worry they are going to be asked to do something they don’t like. Adults are in charge and while we might know how the day is going to go, to a child it might feel like chaos. Showing them in advance can help them anticipate and cope. Type A personalities are curious about what’s next and want to now from a control and planning point of view, but anxious personalities want to know so they can reduce the chaos, trust things and mentally prepare for something they may not like.
QUICK TIP →Sometimes kids develop anxiety temporarily during a big change in life like a move, a divorce, or a new school. Having a visual schedule can give them something tangible to help see past the chaos and find the order and predictability that will help calm them down.
As Temple Grandin once said, people on the Autism Spectrum tend to be “visual thinkers”. For that reason, they also tend to learn best using visual supports rather than through auditory input alone. Adding a visual layer to communication engages the mind of an individual with Autism in unique and powerful ways. The topic of visual schedules and Autism is a complex one with many variables. We are in the process of building a dedicated section of this website to ASD and will link it here as soon as it’s ready.
QUICK TIP→ SchKIDules is capable of making digital photo magnets on special request. If the icons available do not satisfy your needs, please feel free to reach out to us. Also, if you’d like to be on our panel of parents and professionals who provide input and feedback for future special needs related SchKIDules expansion packs, we’d love to hear from you.
Do you have a planner on your hands? Is your child in need of knowing what’s next, what are we doing today, when is daddy coming home, etc? This level of curiosity and “need to know” is great, but even if you answer their questions, there is a good chance they will ask again because they have either forgotten or they are wondering if enough time has passed that it’s “that time”. I visual schedule can greatly satisfy this “need to know” AND layout things in an order for kids to better understand the passing of time.
QUICK TIP→ Start by just laying out one part of the day to see if that satisfies your child’s curiosity. Or laying out just the part they seem to be thinking the most about. Visual schedules are not about having every minute of the day mapped out, but rather supplementing communication for the parts of the day that triggers your child’s needs.
When kids are enjoying something and we say “time to go” or “turn it off”, they can respond differently. Some kids will roll with it, while others have a complete meltdown. If you’ve got the meltdowns, you just might have a child who has a tough time transitioning. We’ve all heard the advice to give them the 10 minute warning and then the 5 minute warning. This is solid advice because what you are doing is you are verbally helping them to prepare for the end of something. But transition troubles come in all shapes and sizes and some kids have trouble with even the smallest transitions. This is where using a visual schedule can be an extra strategy to help them see that all activities have a beginning and an end and then we move on. This is helpful for ending fun activities, but it can be just as helpful getting a child through a not so well liked activity when they can see what follows.
QUICK TIP→ If your child has trouble transitioning out of a fun activity try to make the follow up activity neutral and not one they avoid. For instance, don’t follow play date with nap. Instead put a snack in between to help them move them down one step at a time.
Let’s face it, sticking to a routine is sometimes as hard as staying on a diet. We have good intentions but somewhere along the way life steps in and we get off course. Children need structure and kids with ADHD need it even more. Reliable routines for morning, after school, and bedtime make a tremendous difference in setting expectations, building good habits, and improving ADD-related behavior. ADD challenges executive functioning, working memory and mental organization. Visual schedules make the abstract tangible and create a visual construct that helps kids organize and process their thoughts. Establishing routines takes discipline and effort on everyone’s part. Even parents struggle sometimes to keep those healthy routines going but that’s where SchKIDules steps in and maintains the expectations for you.
QUICK TIP→ Just because you post a routine doesn’t mean your child suddenly follows it from beginning to end. The cat could walk by, a commercial can get their attention, or the wind could blow. So we suggest setting up a visual schedule that requires interaction so you can monitor your child’s success from afar. in other words, create a to do and done column and have your child move the icon to the done column or use our SchKIDules check marks next to completed activities. That way parents can visual track their child’s progress and redirect when necessary.
We all forget stuff. Adults rely on to-do lists, calendars, Alexa and Post Its to keep ourselves on top of life. Kids forget stuff too but they often don’t have these adult strategies at their disposal. A visual schedule is a great way for kids to have their own kid-style “to do list’ that get’s their attention and speaks their language. It’s a great reminder station for them to remember what to do whether it’s how to get ready for the bus, what to do when they get home from school, their chore list, or their bedtime routine.
QUICK TIP→ If you set up a reminder station and your child still forgets, simply redirect them back to the station instead of telling them what’s next. This will teach them to independently use the reminder station and not come to mom or dad for answers that are already available.
We know we’ve all said “you need to listen” or “you didn’t listen” to our kids when we think they didn’t pay attention to instructions we gave. Kids missing our verbal messages can be attributed to lots of things such as distraction, forgetfulness and yes, listening skills. But we as adults forget that it can take time for little brains to process messages and listening IS a skill that is developed over time. Some kids just don’t develop those skills until later despite how many time we tell them to listen. So perhaps it’s not defiance or distraction but the fact that your child’s auditory processing skills are just not matured yet. In this case, a visual schedule can help reduce stress and bridge that gap of time it takes them to get there.
QUICK TIP→Try not to accuse your child of willfully “not listening”. Often times something else is the culprit. Not only can this frustrate a young child who is doing their best and can be hurtful to a child who wants to please his/her parents but feels accused of doing something “wrong”.
Kids are attracted to pictures. When kids are young they are all “visual learners”. As they mature, words replace pictures and auditory skills (listening) get better. However, some kids develop these skills later than others and some of us remain strong visual learners our whole life. If you’ve got a visual learner on your hands they could be very frustrated because you are not speaking their language. Do them the favor of adding visuals to your communication landscape and you and your child will enjoy and easier time together.
QUICK TIP→ If visual ignite a whole new level of understanding in your child that means they are heavily relying on the images to comprehend messages. In this situation, you want to discuss with your child what each image means to make sure that from the start it is interpreted the correct way.
By the time we are an adult, communicating feels like second nature. We speak as easily as we breath and blink. But even though it’s easy doesn’t mean we do it well. Adults listening skills are often lacking and our expressive language can be misunderstood even by other adults. But we get so used to talking and hearing that we forget just how much processing is going on in our brains every time we do it. Now dial back to your 5 yr old brain or the brain of a child who cannot filter out distraction and tell me, has it always been that simple? No it hasn’t. So if your child needs a little communication assistance whether it be expressive or receptive, visual schedules can help. Some kids use them to take in information and other use it to express their desires, feelings or ideas when they are not confident enough to do it verbally.
Icons For All Your Needs
Why Choose SchKIDules?
- SchKIDules is NOT a calendar. There are plenty of magnetic calendars on the market that display things like the month, the weather, the holidays, etc. Instead, SchKIDules is a positive behavioral support and parenting tool that helps kids with independence, executive functioning, coping, anxiety, working memory, focus and much much more.
- SchKIDules is VERSATILE. One board with one look can only support one objective in a fixed stage of your child’s life. Our goal was to provide a visual schedule that adapted to your child’s developmental growth and allowed the user to advance from momentary goals, to daily goals to weekly goals. The combination of our tri-folding, two sided board and our magnetic headings provide unlimited set up possibilities.
- SchKIDules is INTELLIGENTLY DESIGNED. Our icons are colorful and relatable enough that kids love them, but are also simple and clear enough that kids understand the action they communicate.
- SchKIDules is INCLUSIVE of different needs. Visual schedules are used by the MAJORITY of children. Walk into any kindergarten classroom and you will see a visual schedule showing the kids what they are doing that day. From that point forward, how long a child uses a visual schedule and for what reasons vary greatly. SchKIDules offers activities for kids young and old, for kids with special needs or without, and for kids who need help expressing feelings. There are plenty more, but at the end of they day we like to say they just HELP KIDS…because no kid is just one “label” but a combination of strengths, weaknesses, traits, talents, and personalities that makes each one of us an individual.
Magnetic Visual Schedules
Hook & Loop Visual Schedules
Who Uses Visual Schedules?
For children, organization and time management can be difficult. They may struggle with executive functioning or working memory and therefore have trouble with things like to do lists or morning routines. This can be a source of frustration for parents, teachers, and children themselves. SchKIDules visual schedules can help to make things a little easier for everyone.
Children Can Be More Independent
SchKIDules visual schedules are helpful for children from age three through and sometimes beyond elementary school. Each activity magnet contains in illustration of an activity along with the related word, so even kids who cannot read yet, or are just learning to read can follow the easy to understand visual prompts.
This improves kids’ confidence and sense of independence, allowing them to complete certain tasks like getting ready for school on their own or remembering chores each day. Morning routines are so much easier.
Families Can Connect More Easily
SchKIDules can also create a wonderful opportunity to connect with your child. You can sit down with your child and plan your day together or discuss the order of tasks; thus allowing your child to offer input and feel more in control. A child that feels more able to predict what’s next has less anxiety and feels more empowered.
Visual schedules are not necessarily new. Whether it was parents scouring the internet for pictures or teachers investing in costly software to locate images, visual schedules have been made by hand for decades. This tried and true behavioral tool is often worth the effort because visual schedules our so effective. The good news is SchKIDules has taken the hassle and tedium out of this process by supplying a ready-made, high-quality, colorful visual schedule for both classrooms and households.
All the preprinted pictures and headings cover just about everything you need to create a schedule your child can easily follow. They will build independence and experience a greater sense of control, while you get to enjoy the wonderment of not having to repeat yourself.
Anyone who has trouble with organization or forgetfulness can benefit from SchKIDules visual schedules.
How to Use Visual Schedules
In the classroom, visual schedules are very effective at the elementary level. Readers and pre-readers alike can benefit from their colorful pictures and straightforward lay out. When using task lists, kids can move the activity to another column once they’ve completed it. This allows them to see their progress right away.
The SchKIDules icons are colorful and easy to translate into good behavior. Children can look at the pictures and learn to associate the accompanying word provided with that picture.
Children can also learn to predict the schedule and be better able to effectively participate because the information is arranged in a clear and understandable way. They see, they understand, and this lets them take accurately anticipate and prepare for what’s next.
Independence and self-confidence are soon following.
Learn More About SchKIDules
Created by a stay-at-home mom looking to solve parenting challenges, SchKIDules offers a variety of boards and magnetized pictures that can each be purchased separately. There are several packs to choose from, including a school collection and a home collection. Teachers can arrange the magnets to show a class schedule or task list. The magnets can remain static, or the child can move the magnets over to a “done” column as they finish.
At home, their SchKIDules can help move them through their morning or bedtime routine or keep them on task with homework or chores. It gives them a clear visual of what they have accomplished and what is still to come.
Many children rely on visual schedules to help them understand what’s next and be successful with navigating their day, but some kids also rely on them to help them transition easier from one activity to another. The visual layout particularly helps kids with Autism process what’s next. That’s why SchKIDules is the perfect choice as an autistic visual schedule – or to use with a child with ADHD.
Routines don’t have to be a hassle. Schedules can be fun, especially when they are completely visual. End the morning meltdowns or the disruptions that come from disorganization. It’s time to turn things around at school and at home.
It’s time to let your child know you believe in him or her and want what’s best for them. Learn more about SchKIDules products today!
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