• Becky

15 Ways to Make Everyday Easier with a Visual Schedule

Visual schedules and calendars are a great way to incorporate multiple senses to help improve memory. Let's break down the use of a visual schedule for different age groups to make sure this concept can grow with your children. You can find our template here.


Find your child’s developmental level below for some suggestions!




For the Pre-Reader Stage:

1. Use Pictures with Words Underneath

Our visual schedule uses this concept. It makes the plan accessible to younger children while reinforcing pre-reading skills like letter identification and that a written word stands for a physical object.

2. Post at child’s height.

When it is at their height, you can direct them to look at the schedule instead of asking you a million times. This helps to increase independence (yay executive functioning) and decreases conflict over power struggles between you and them.

3. Make it interactive.

I love laminating my schedules and adding velcro to the pieces so that it becomes an interactive activity. For some kids, this might be a good activity to do together in the morning. For others, it may be more beneficial to create the visual schedule and then show it to them. Being able to move icons to the “Done” column gives them some control and decreases big feelings when moving through the day.

4. Include enough activities to be helpful but not so much you go crazy.

This will require some trial and error. You don’t want to include so many icons you keep coming back to the schedule but enough that activities and events aren’t surprising. For example, it may be more beneficial to put an image for the bedtime routine as a whole without getting down to the individual tasks.

5. Include your child when something needs to change.

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. I know, shocker. So when the day doesn’t follow the routine or schedule you have set out, include your child when changing the visual schedule. Have them help change the icons and talk about what is changing and why. Model flexibility and teach coping skills if big feelings arise.



For the Almost-Reader to Reader:

1. Use pictures to support learning sight words.

Slowly phase out using pictures and transition to using just words to target sight word identification. But (and this is a big but) if the goal of this activity is to help with transitions, don’t add in sight words! We don't want to challenge two things at once. If your child is great with transitions and you want to use this to target daily sight words, go for it. But if you are using a visual schedule for transitions, don’t add in the additional stress of reading. Pick one or the other.

2. Post at child’s height.

When it is at their height, you can direct them to look at the schedule instead of asking you a million times. This helps to increase independence (yay executive functioning) and decreases conflict over power struggles between you and them.

3. Start including days of the week and dates in your schedule.

This is a great way to reinforce abstract concepts like days of the week and month, day, year. This might also be a great time to point out patterns in your life that occur on a weekly basis (ex. soccer practice happens on Wednesdays).

4. Make it interactive.

I don’t know any child that doesn’t love being in charge of the calendar! I love laminating my schedules and adding velcro to the pieces so that it becomes an interactive activity. For some kids, this might be a good activity to do together in the morning. For others, it may be more beneficial to create the visual schedule and then show it to them.

5. Include your child when something needs to change.

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. I know, shocker. So when the day doesn’t follow the routine or schedule you have set out, include your child in changing up the visual schedule. Have them help you change out the icons and talk about what is changing and why. Model flexibility and teach coping skills if big feelings arise.



For the Reader and Writer:

1. Time to create a more adult-like schedule.

This is a great way to sneak in some handwriting practice without it being a worksheet! Hooray for sneaky skill development! It is beneficial to write out a general schedule that will stay the same from day to day (especially if this is tied to a virtual learning schedule from school) and then add in the blanks for the child to make choices during the day.

2. Give them as much or as little structure as they will need.

You know your child best. Some kids will need you to break the day down into greater detail and others will be fine with seeing just an overview. There is no need to overwhelm them with information, just enough so that the day has a predictable flow. You might be able to move from a daily schedule to a weekly overview highlighting the differences between days of the week.

3. Work on executive functioning skills.

Time-management, planning, and organization are all skills that take time and practice to cultivate in children. They also make up some of the most in-demand skills for well-regarded adults. Using a weekly or monthly calendar to write down the intermediate steps to reach longer term goals and plans will help teach these skills in an organic, functional way.

4. Include your child when something needs to change.

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. I know, shocker. So when the day doesn’t follow the routine or schedule you have set out, include your child in changing up the visual schedule. Have them help you change out the icons and talk about what is changing and why. Model flexibility and coping skills if things get hard.


Download our visual schedule and start moving your day from crazy to consistent.


If you need help developing your routine, creating an interactive visual schedule, or you just want more information, contact us for a free 15 minute consultation!

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