10 benefits of using Visual Schedules in the Classroom
Within the modern-day classroom, there are students with a wide range of abilities and needs. Each of the young people in our classroom is unique. It is up to teachers to find strategies and tools to help each one of them learn as effectively as possible. There are so many benefits to using visual schedules in the classroom. They’re an excellent tool for supporting all learning. They can assist students in understanding auditory input through visual images. Visual supports can represent directions, routines, verbal requests, and more.
What is a Visual Schedule?
A visual schedule communicates the sequence of upcoming activities or events through the use of objects, photographs, icons, words, or a combination of tangible supports. A visual schedule can be designed to tell the whole class what is happening, and when it is happening. You can also create visual schedules that are tailored to individual needs, and tell a student what they are expected to do, and what reward they will receive when they complete the expected tasks.
Here are 10 benefits of using visual schedules in the classroom.
1. Visual Schedules provide predictability to the day.
Visual schedules are a great way to set up a clear routine for the day. All students can be informed about what is happening across the day. They can also be used to segment the day into smaller, more manageable sections.
2. Visual Schedules can make transitions easier.
Moving from one task to another can be tough for some students. The movement and addition of new tasks can be confusing to manage at once. Unexpected changes to the usual transitions can also be challenging. A visual schedule, however, will reduce meltdowns and refusal to work because the visual schedule depicts what comes next. This helps students anticipate changes.
3. Visual Schedules can reduce anxiety.
Visual schedules are an important tool in reducing anxiety while teaching flexibility. Students may feel anxious if the expectations are not understood or if predictable routines are not in place. A visual schedule can provide a clear external structure for the school day, and may be physiologically calming for students.
The reason why changing tasks can be difficult is that students don’t always know what comes next. This can cause anxiety in some children, especially those on the spectrum or with anxiety disorders. Some children can get very upset if you tell them the bus will arrive at 8 am and it doesn’t. Or if they’re told the school assembly will finish at 2:30 pm but it doesn’t finish till closer to 3 pm. In these situations, it can help to use reference points like recess or after lunch rather than specific times. For example, if a school assembly is scheduled to run in the hour before school ends, your timetable could show a picture of the assembly followed by the dismissal image.
4. Visual schedules allow change to be introduced easily.
Interruptions are a part of life. Most of us learn to deal with these changes and develop skills to combat the anxiety these changes may cause. Some people, especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Anxiety disorders, and processing disorders, find change to the routine difficult to deal with. Visual Schedules can be used to introduce a new task or activity. You can set the schedule up if the change is known, or place a card in between two items already on the schedule. The change can be seen visually, helping the student adapt better to the change.
5. Visual Schedules support literacy and numeracy development.
Many students with autism and/or hyperlexia struggle with expressive and receptive speech. Verbal instructions can literally go in one ear and out the other. Visual schedules can help reinforce those verbal instructions. Visual schedules also incorporate words with pictures. This aids in the development of vocabulary, comprehension, and overall language development. My visual schedules incorporate clocks, both digital and analogue. This helps students understand and measure time. the format of a visual schedule clearly illustrates the sequence of events for the day. Visual schedules can also be used to teach abstract concepts such as first, next, last, or before and after.
6. Visual Schedules teaches responsibility and planning.
Once students have understood how the visual timetable works, they can start helpi
ng teachers, and parents, build the daily schedule or routine for the day. Doing this allows them to think about and sometimes read a timetable to plan out tasks in an appropriate sequence. This helps build executive functioning skills.
Visual schedules can also be a way to break down tasks into smaller, manageable steps, allowing students to master time management and basic life skills.
7. Visual Schedules can teach Independence.
Are you sick of students asking you “when does the class end?”, “What else are we doing today?”, or “When are we going to the library?”. By having a visual schedule up in your room, students can check what is coming next, or when a certain event is happening. They can check the schedule and move onto the next task by themselves, or use the time to complete incomplete work.
Teaching students to follow visual schedules, rather than being moved around the classroom or through activities by staff members, increases the likelihood that students will become independent of adult delivered prompts. Research confirms that shifting from verbal prompts to visual prompts can increase student independence and engagement, as well as decrease the need for adult supports (Green, 2001).
8. Visual Schedules can build self-esteem.
By developing responsibility and independence, student’s will self-esteem will also be strengthened. Students will feel a sense of accomplishment when they can move through expected tasks and check them off using a visual schedule.
9. Visual Schedules can assist students with ASD, Anxiety, Processing Disorders, and more.
Students who are strong visual learners benefit from visual schedules. They can provide predictable and meaningful routines through the use of structure. They add visual/structural supports to classroom instruction and activities to increase engagement and independence. Visual Schedules can organise classroom spaces and teaching materials to reduce anxiety and increase appropriate behavior.
10. Can be used throughout the day and be taken anywhere.
Retaining verbal information can be hard for some students. A visual schedule can be used to reduce the demand on students to recall what is required next. They are very useful for breaking down tasks that have multiple steps. They are also useful in ensuring children follow rules and deadlines.
An individual schedule can be taken from one class to another. It can be a consistent tool the student refers too. A class visual schedule can be displayed at the front of the classroom and referred to throughout the day. Visual schedules are a tool that can support more than one student and reduce behavioural issues.
Are you after more advice and support in your teaching? Read about the importance of Classroom Routines and Procedures, Behaviour Management Tips for Beginning Teachers and Putting KUDos into Practice.