Visual Calendars & Schedules: How They Benefit Your Child

Summertime brings about a more relaxed schedule that is filled with fun activities: camp, family vacations, trips to the water park. However, children with sensory processing difficulties or any anxiety tend to prefer a very predictable schedule and may feel uneasy during this time. When there is a change in routine or something new is thrown into the day, that element of predictability disappears, and the child can become anxious, upset and possibly act out as a result. He or she may not know what to expect and how to plan for new sensory experiences. After all, with each new activity comes a plethora of new sensory input such as sound, touch, movement, and sight. A visual calendar that identifies daily and weekly schedule changes can help children with sensory processing difficulties or children who have a hard time transitioning feel more comfortable with their summer routine.

Tips For Using A Visual Calendar Or Schedule With Your Child:

  • Use a calendar large enough to write down daily and weekly activities.
  • Review the calendar with your child daily so he knows what to expect for the day and for the weeks ahead. For example, “Today we will go to the beach. In 5 days, you will start camp.”
  • Cross off the days as they conclude and review what is on the schedule for the next day at bedtime, and again in the morning.
  • Be sure to include the first day of school on the calendar to indicate the end of summer.

For children with sensory processing concerns, thinking in the future can be very abstract and overwhelming. The visual calendar will be beneficial to make your child’s day to day and week to week schedule more concrete and help him or her be more organized.

Below is an example of a successful visual calendar:

Visual Calendar

Visual Calendar

Feel free to comment with how a visual calendar has helped your child!

5 replies
  1. maureen Evans
    maureen Evans says:

    What a super article and the “visual” of the visual claendar is a great way to envision creating your own!! Children thrive when they know what is coming next!! Short term and long term calendar items are great ways to cope with multiple activities and plotting the days until school starts helps the child gain control over what he could be worrying about long before the first day!
    I think I just may need a visual calendar myself!! Very nifty idea!

  2. Robyn
    Robyn says:

    Dana, this is a great article! We use a daily schedule with our 3 year old daughter and it has changed everything for the better! It really gives her a true sense of what to expect when. It especially helps during meal-times because she actually wants to eat so she can cross it off her schedule and that gives her a sense of accomplishment!

  3. maureen Evans
    maureen Evans says:

    Very nifty idea! I just may need one myself! The “visual” of the visual calendar provides a wonderful template for creating your own! Children thrive when they know what’s coming next and plotting the days until school starts can help a nervous child contol the experience!
    Thanks Dana!

  4. Monica
    Monica says:

    Great article Dana! Very informative and easy to understand. It amazes me how much I’m learning from all of you! 🙂 Thank you NSPT!


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