The ability to make choices is fundamental to human nature. When individuals have a sense of control over their lives, it fosters a positive mindset and reduces stress. For children, who often have limited control over their daily activities, choice boards become a valuable tool. The act of making decisions allows them to feel more in charge, boosting their confidence and overall well-being.
What are choice boards?
Choice boards are visual displays that present a selection of activities or tasks from which a child can choose. The structure of a choice board allows children to see and understand the options available to them, promoting a sense of agency and control. Choice boards are often used to support young children and children with additional needs; however, they can be helpful for all children. The structure of a choice board allows children to see and understand the options available to them, promoting a sense of agency and control.
The video below shows a child using a choice board:
How do choice boards help?
1. Empowerment through Decision-Making: Giving children the ability to make choices empowers them. It shifts the focus from external control to internal autonomy. By selecting activities they find enjoyable or manageable, children experience a sense of ownership over their day, reducing the stress associated with imposed routines.
2. Customized Learning Experience:
Choice boards are versatile tools that can be tailored to an individual child's needs and preferences. This customization ensures that the activities presented align with the child's interests and comfort levels, creating a more positive and less stressful learning environment.
3. Predictability and Routine:
While the element of choice is crucial, choice boards also provide a level of predictability. Knowing what options are available and having a routine to follow can be particularly comforting for children who struggle with uncertainty, thereby reducing anxiety.
4. Encouraging Exploration:
Choice boards encourage children to explore new activities at their own pace. This gradual exposure to new experiences can help build confidence and resilience, ultimately reducing anxiety related to the fear of the unknown.
How to Use a Choice Board:
Implementing a choice board involves a few simple steps. Whether in a classroom or at home, the goal is to create an environment that encourages decision-making while providing a structured framework.
1. Identify Goals and Activities: Define the objectives you want to achieve with the choice board. These could range from academic goals to behavioral or emotional targets. Identify a variety of activities that align with these goals.
2. Create a Visual Board: Design a visually appealing choice board. This can be done using a physical board, poster, or digital platform. Organize the activities into categories, and use clear visuals or icons to represent each option. Ensure that the choices are age-appropriate and engaging.
3. Introduce the Choice Board: Explain the purpose of the choice board to the child. Emphasize that it is a tool designed to give them control over their activities. Walk them through the different options and explain how they can make choices based on their preferences.
4. Establish Guidelines: Set clear guidelines for using the choice board. Establish when and how often the child can make choices, ensuring that it aligns with the overall routine. Clearly communicate any boundaries or expectations associated with the selected activities.
The video below explains how to use a choice board and how they can support autistic children: