How to create a visual schedule for your family.
April 24, 2012 by Cristi
We used to.
But life has thrown us a little curve ball.
My son has been waking up 2- 3 times every night to “check in.” Needless to say, we are slightly sleep deprived over here and off from our usual schedules. I noticed that my son’s anxiety level around bedtime seemed to increase particularly on days that I was at work or and when we returned home from a vacation. I knew I needed to do more than just talk to him about what the day will bring. He needed to see it. He needed a place he could check in to see what his day looked like.
Visual schedules are not just great for little ones- they are great for ANYONE of any age and can keep your child’s anxiety levels down and therefore, they are more likely to explore and build self-confidence in the safety of their environment. Not to mention that it is great modeling for them to learn the ability to be conistant and diligent in a routine. They will gain a sense of accomplishment when they see all the things they were able to accomplish throughout the day.
First thing to do is figure out what your routine and daily rituals are and come up with an age appropriate way to make a visual schedule that works with your family.
My son is two. Therfore, I needed to make my schedule as simple as possible.
So, here is what I did:
I got a magnet board at Ikea and some extra fabric I had laying around. I glued the fabric to the magnet board.
My hot glue gun wasn’t quite doing the trick with the metal so I used this. It did wonders.
Then I embellished it with a little ribbon that would match his bathroom where we are going to hang it. Make sure you hang yours in a location that your child can go to see it often.
I added a pocket at the bottom to keep the extra cards and added some more ribbon and lace. I know not very boyish but I just can’t help myself sometimes- I love lace.
Then, I grabbed wooden clothes pins and adhered them to the magnet.
My son doesn’t quite understand times yet but he understands night and day so I divided the board into A.M. and P.M by adding some wooden letters and symbols he recognizes.
Next I found free clip art on-line and created cards that represented his routine. You can see the additional images I created right here.
Another idea is to write specific times right on the clothes pin itself.
And there you go- our visual schedule!!
Want a few tips for setting a routine and creating a visual schedule?
1. Be consistent: Having a schedule and not following through can be confusing for a child. Being consistent will increase your child’s security and self confidence as he or she will know what to expect.
2. Be flexible. Some days just don’t go as planned- leave wiggle room for things that come up. Just be sure to communicate to your child about the change of plan. It’s great modeling on how to be flexible. It’s also a great idea to leave a few blank cards just in case that happens and you want to change the schedule last minute.
3. Plan fun and relaxation time: Planning for these activities will mean that they will actually happen. It is easy to get caught up in errands and the to-do list but don’t forget to schedule bubble blowing and story time with your little ones.
4. Include your child in the planning. Ask your child what activities he or she would like to do and see if there is an agreement on what the schedule will look like.I encourage having separate cards of fun activities that your child can earn or choose. This will create excitement and ownership of their day.
5. Make sure your visual schedule is age appropriate: kid’s brains see things very differently at different ages- so be aware of what is age appropriate. For instance, with a young children use simple colorful cartoon images that grab their attention. For older kids include words or photographs.
6. Continue to use it on the weekends and summers: I don’t know about you but I get more lazy and relaxed about a routine in the summer and on the weekends. It is very important to continue to plan and keep a routine with our children. It gives them the continued sense of security that they need to thrive and continue to learn even when they are not in school. Plus it gives you guys a chance to plan some fun summer activities in advance!
Okay there you go ladies- start planning and I want to hear how it goes so- report back will ya!