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Back to School Series: Implementing Visual Schedules at Home

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

With the start of a new school year, you may be looking for some ways to provide structure and routine to your child’s day, whether that be at home during remote learning or before or after school hours. Implementing a visual schedule can play an important part in learning new skills, promoting independence, and providing predictability of routines in many different situations. Learning how to follow a visual schedule is a great skill that can help your child at home, in school, and in other community settings. A visual schedule can look many different ways and can change based on your family’s or child’s needs.

Basic First/Then Board:

This provides a short visual schedule and allows your child to know what to expect next. Feel free to use pictures from your phone, the internet, your drawing, or your child’s drawings!

To Do/Done Board:

As your child demonstrates an understanding of a first/then board, feel free to expand the board to fit your daily schedule! Here at the BAC, we love this style. Place all of the pictures/icons/drawings in the top “to do” section and have your child move them to the “done” section when they are completed. Ask your child “what’s next” to see if he/she uses the schedule to predict what will happen next in his/her plan. For older children, and for an added challenge, have them try to predict how long a task

will take (this is a great executive function task).

Start with a visual schedule that is achievable and not overwhelming to your child. Some ideas may include breaking your child’s day into sections (morning, afternoon, evening). As your child begins to feel more comfortable with the schedule, you can add additional activities. Don’t forget to add in breaks!

Digital Visual Schedules:

There are many programs and apps available that you can use to make visual schedules “on the go.” One of our favorites is the Choiceworks App. Choiceworks allows you to quickly make visual schedules using either the preloaded graphics in the app or your own photos that you upload. Further, there are timers that can be used to help your child improve his/her waiting skills and other visuals that can be used to help your child process his/her emotions.

Looking for more tips and tricks to help your child with his/her new routine this upcoming school year? Give our office a call at 781-239-0100 to connect with one of our occupational or speech therapists!

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