What are visual timetables?
Visual timetables are simple, clear timetables which use pictures to explain the events and order of the day, parts of the day or routines to children.
Visual timetables break down the day into manageable chunks, using images to represent different activities, locations, events, or subjects. For example, a picture of a book might mean it's reading time, a crayon could symbolize art class, and so on. It creates a sense of routine and structure, and that's a comforting hug for a young mind navigating the maze of life.
What is the impact of visual timetables?
Toby is 7, and he's about to start his day. Everything around him is a bit overwhelming; he's worried about what is going to happen. But today is different—he walks downstairs and sees his timetable; it's full of visuals, so he can clearly see everything that is going to happen. It's like a roadmap for his day, but with pictures!
Now, instead of wondering, "What's next?" or "What comes after this?" He can glance at the timetable and see exactly what's on the agenda. It's like having a little visual guide to his day, and it's a game-changer; he's no longer worried about the unknown. He's even a little bit excited about some of the things that he is going to be doing!
Using timetables, kids can anticipate what's coming up, and that predictability can be like a superhero cape against the anxiety, stress, and frustration associated with uncertainty.
Think about it: When you know what to expect, it's easier to feel in control. And for kids, feeling in control means feeling less anxious, stressed, and frustrated. It's like having a little preview of your day, and who doesn't love a good sneak peek?
How to use:
Place the cards in order of what will happen. You can also create smaller ones for different parts of the day or to help your child complete a particular routine.
Build the schedule, it is nice to build it together with your child.
Point at each item and say what it is.
When the activity/event is complete remove it from the schedule. It is nice to allow your child to remove it themselves as this will give them a feeling of control.
Make sure the visual schedule is accessible to your child at all times so that they can refer to it. Either bring the schedule with you, or take a photo of the schedule so that you can show it to your child later in the day if needed.
The video below has some lovely examples of how to use a visual schedule:
How do you create a visual schedule (timetable)?
Print out our timetable and cards or create them yourself.
Laminate them and cut them out.
Stick the background together. You can add in as many pages as needed to make it the length needed for your timetable. E.g. More detailed timetables will be longer.
If you can use some velcro to stick the cards to the timetable. Blue tac will also work.