Schedules do a lot of things for us: they help us to be on time and in the right place, they help us to make sense of our priorities, and they even help us to reduce anxiety by giving our daily activity a sense of predictability. For those reasons (and more), schedules can be a hugely useful tool. A child who learns how to use a schedule has a powerful tool that will only strengthen his or her independence.
Schedules are often introduced in preschool as a part of the morning routine. Most teachers help young students identify the month and day along with current weather conditions, special events, and daily expectations. By the time we began using schedules at home, Little Miss already had an understanding of the components involved in a schedule and how they were used, thanks to some great pre-K and kindergarten educators.
Still, many children have never used a schedule independently or do not know how to put the pieces of a schedule together to make a working tool (as was the case with Little Miss). If your child needs a little help learning to use a schedule, it is a good idea to start simple with a weekly schedule, as we did (described below).
Our Weekly Schedule
When we first began using schedules at home with Little Miss, we chose to create a weekly schedule to help with some anxiety issues Little Miss faced over what activities might occur in the week ahead and whether or not there would be bad weather.
Our weekly schedule uses a simple dry erase board (like this one) and includes activities that are not routine (for example, a school celebration, daddy working late, or a field trip) as well as visits from people Little Miss knows (for example, her ABA tutor or her grandmother). We also include daily weather icons to help Little Miss prepare.
The schedule hangs on our refrigerator where Little Miss can access it any time she needs to and check what is coming up.
Because Little Miss has become proficient enough with reading to recognize familiar words, we primarily use a written schedule. However, as you can see with the weather icons, we still switch on and off and use pictures for unfamiliar words and ideas. I’ve been pinning visuals to my Schedule Ideas Pinterest Board if you need help finding your own pictures to create a visual schedule!