How to Use Visual Schedules

to Help Your Child Understand Expectations

Why Should I Use a Visual Schedule With My Child?

As adults, our lives revolve around schedules. Children as young as one-year-old can benefit from following a schedule. When a child sees what's expected of them, rather than hears it, it sticks better in their head and gives them a clearer idea of the point of the task. A child grows more and behaves better when they're not told what not to do, but rather, told what to do. Using negative words like "don't" and "no" isn't supportive. Since younger children can't read yet, a visual schedule with lots of pictures and colors can help interpret to them what is expected of them on a daily basis. Visual schedules can be used around the home, at school, and many other places to make routines stick and make days go much smoother.

How to Create a Visual Schedule

When creating a visual schedule, the main focus should be that the child can understand it easily. It should be able to tell the child (a) what they're supposed to be doing (b) how long they perform a certain task for and (c) what they do next. While you're creating a visual schedule, get input from your child and let them be involved in its creation as much as possible. Let them choose visuals for each activity and make sure they understand what each picture means. The best way to teach a child how to use a schedule is 'monkey see monkey do' and also repetition. If your child sees mommy and daddy following the schedule, they will want to follow the schedule. Allow your child to 'check off' activities on the schedule as they are completed so that the child understands the purpose. Choosing a harder time of day to start the schedule with is beneficial because once that time runs smoothly, the schedule can be applied to an entire day. All in all, visual schedules make days easier, bonds between parents and children closer, reduce arguments and difficulties, and give a child confidence in their actions and give the illusion of self-control. Visual schedules limit the need for "no's" and "don'ts" and make days run smoothly.


All information from:

"How to Use Visual Schedules to Help Your Child Understand Expectations." Backpack Connection Series. University of South Florida, May 2012. Web. 3 May 2013.