*Updated with new apps- September 2023
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Written By: Amy Fuchs
Visual schedules are very useful tools when used consistently. They can make the school day flow so much better for the students who need them.
Here are some things to keep in mind when using visual schedules:
Use print and visuals to encourage/reinforce reading skills.
Simple visuals (line drawings) or photos
1. The schedule must be followed consistently, this keeps the school day predictable for the student. Now, we know life happens! So, see tip #2 for what to do when the schedule is disrupted.
2. If a change happens to the school day (and it will – think assemblies, field day, etc.), the best thing to do is to let the students know as soon as possible. When you know, they need to know. This can happen in two different ways based on when you know about the changes:
Sometimes this means you can prep them first thing in the morning, “We’re going to have an assembly, so snack will be after the assembly rather than after Math” (as you are rearranging the visuals to show them this change).
Other times, you may have short notice, that’s okay! Again, when you know, let them know. Rearrange the visual schedule and explain what is happening that is different. Even a small amount of notice is better than none at all.
3. Visual schedules are also wonderful “little helpers” when it comes to handling misbehaviors in the classroom. You can adopt the mantra, “Go check your schedule. What should you be doing right now?” to the student who loves to repeat, “I don’t know what to do”. Not to mention, the first-then reminders are built into the schedule! “Your schedule says, first you do math, then you have a snack.” while you are pointing to the visuals. “Look, you are almost to snack, let’s get this math done!”
Using apps for visual schedules rather than paper versions can be an even better option. Imagine NOT having to do all of that printing, cutting, laminating, and peeling and sticking the velcro, etc. that is involved in making paper schedules! This might be particularly useful for older students (they have it on a phone or small tablet, they appear to just be checking their phones during transitions the way that many of their peers are likely doing). Check out these apps and see if any may work for your students and classroom:
If you are interested in searching for more apps, creating your own list of apps and sharing them, please go to BridgingApps.org. BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, is a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about using mobile devices with people who have special needs.