Posts

creating a visual schedule

7 Tips For Creating A Visual Schedule

What is a visual schedule?

A schedule consists of main activities to be completed during a particular time frame. A visual schedulecreating a visual schedule uses words or symbols (depending on your child’s level of literacy) to represent activities on his/her schedule. For more information about visual schedules and why you should use them, click here.

7 Tips for Creating Visual Schedule:

  1. Pair symbols with words to increase your child’s understanding of the schedule, as well as to help develop pre-literacy skills (i.e., help your child start to understand that symbols like pictures and groups of graphemes represent concepts).
  2. Vary activities to increase engagement. For example, if you are creating a schedule for after school, make sure there is a change of environments within the schedule (indoor/outdoor) or a shift from adult-directed to child-directed activities, etc.
  3. Post the visual schedule in places where your child can easily view it.
  4. Start simple and be consistent, especially at first. Start with a few activities and help guide your child through the schedule at first. As your child starts to understand routines and activities on the schedule, increase independence by prompting your child to look at the schedule and figure out what comes next/what he/she has to do without your help.
  5. Understand your child’s cognitive, attentional, and energy needs. Arrange activities to meet these needs. For example, if your child is always tired at 3pm, schedule an activity that will allow your child to rest and regain his or her energy.
  6. Let your child make choices. One way to do this is to allow your child to help determine what should be on the schedule. Another way is to provide two choices for a particular block of time.
  7. Review the schedule before your child follows it. This provides an added review of what is going to happen, thereby increasing predictability and independence. Reviewing changes in the schedule before they happen is especially helpful. If you are deviating from the normal sequence of daily activities, your child will be more prepared for the change. Changes in the schedule are also opportunities to expose your child to new concepts and ideas.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 Reasons Why Your Child Needs a Visual Schedule

What is a visual schedule?

A schedule consists of main activities to be completed during a particular timeframe. A visual schedule uses words or symbols (depending on your child’s level of literacy) to represent activities on his/her schedule.

Why should I use a schedule with my child?

When used consistently, a visual schedule has many potential benefits:

  1. Security and Behavior: Following a visual schedule increases the predictability of your child’s
    schedule-Portrait
    environment. Understanding what comes next, and when a particular event or activity is going to happen, increases your child’s feelings of security and helps them understand what is expected, as well as what to expect. Security and understanding of expectations, along with familiarity with a consistent schedule, may decrease behavior problems and increase engagement in the activity at hand. Increased engagement leads to increased attention and, therefore, learning.
  2. Independence: Knowledge of schedules increases independence. Visual schedules can be used to guide your child through through morning activities and routines. For example, if your child knows he/she eats breakfast then brushes his/her teeth (and understands what needs to happen to complete these routines – e.g., bring plate to the sink, then go to the bathroom, etc.), he/she is more likely to initiate these routines independently.
  3. Flexibility: Predictability allows children to more easily mentally prepare for changes in the regular schedule. If something outside the regular series of activities is going to happen, a visual schedule allows your child to mentally prepare for this change, making for increased flexibility (and smoother transitions to new activities).
  4. Receptive Language: Using a schedule increases your child’s immediate and overall understanding of linguistic concepts. For example, abstract time concepts (later, next, first, last, etc.) that are often difficult for children to understand or conceptualize are experienced firsthand, and can be visualized by looking at the schedule. Furthermore, using a visual schedule will help increase your child’s understanding of verbal directions, as it pairs visual cues with verbal directions, providing additional support to verbal direction.
  5. Pre-Literacy Skills: Using symbols and pairing them with words on your child’s visual schedule facilitates his/her understanding that symbols and words represent concepts. This is an important concept for future acquisition of literacy skills, as letters and words require an understanding of symbolism – pictures or graphemes represent concepts separate from themselves.

Try a visual schedule to help your child and see the impact it has!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Making School Day Routines Easier with a Schedule

With school in session, it is important to solidify those morning, after school, and nighttime routines.  Using schedules provides predictability, encourages independence, and aids in transitions with your child.

Mother and daughter planning a schedule

Here are some quick tips to help make morning and nighttime routines easier with a schedule:

Types of Schedules:

A schedule can be created for any routine, such as bathroom, dressing, leaving for school, or after school routines.  For example, “Eat breakfast, brush teeth, and grab backpack” can be used for a morning routine, or “Eat snack, do homework, have 20 minutes of free time” could be used for an after school routine.

Location of the schedule:

Schedules should be placed where they are most accessible to your child.  If you are trying to promote independence while dressing, place a schedule on your child’s closet or dresser.  Bathroom schedules can be placed on a mirror, and morning/after school schedules can be placed on the refrigerator or door.

Using Pictures:

Pictures are great visuals for younger children or children who have difficulty understanding spoken language. Pictures can be drawn on a dry erase board or mirror, found on a computer (i.e., Google images), or cut out from a magazine.

Including your child:

Encouraging your child to help create his or her own schedule will increase comprehension and motivation for the responsibilities.  It is important to complete schedules before the routine begins.  For example, morning and after school schedules should be completed the night before.  Night schedules could be completed before dinner.  Your child should manipulate his or her schedule by moving pictures from the “to do” to the “all done” pile, or crossing off written tasks.

Flexibility:

Having some flexibility with your child’s schedule is okay, as long as the schedule is set before the routine begins and the arranged schedule is followed.  Rearranging the sequence of tasks, giving your child choices, and introducing new activities allow for flexibility within schedules.

Setting routines and implementing schedules should help make life a little easier.  If you have any suggestions that make your morning, afternoon, and nighttime routines easier, please share them below.

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

Strategies For Smooth Sailing Into Middle School

We are at that time of year-school supply lists, the cooling down of summer, and the fall wardrobe advertisements can only mean one thing: it is “back to school” time! Transitioning back to school can seem overwhelming as it is, but the shift Middle School Boy On Near Lockersfrom elementary to middle school can create unique changes and challenges for students and parents. Knowing what changes to expect, anticipating the challenges they may bring, and brainstorming strategies to address the transition can help children sail smoothly into their middle school years!

Below are some common middle school transition challenges and strategies for smooth sailing.

Middle School Schedule Changes:

One of the biggest schedule changes is the frequent transitioning from class to class during the school day. Transitioning from a summer to school schedule is challenging enough, but adding a school schedule that is completely new can be overwhelming. Your child will experience multiple firsts: first time taking multiple classes; meeting multiple teachers; and navigating between classrooms. These firsts can understandably create anxiety about being on time, going to the right class, and remembering which teacher teaches what! Since starting middle school means starting a new school entirely, another schedule change to anticipate is a different start and end time than what your child is used to.

Middle School Transition Strategies:

  • Talk to your child about her new school schedule for a couple of weeks beforehand so she knows what to expect on the first day.
  • If possible, schedule a visit with the school to familiarize your child with the building and classrooms. Take advantage of new student orientations, and find out where schedules are distributed before school starts. Then, help your child practice going from class to class.
  • Review with your child when her new school will start and end. Listen to any concerns and help come up with a plan to address them. For example, if your child is nervous about getting up on time for an earlier start time, brainstorm ways to tweak bedtime and morning routines so that your child can feel well-rested and ready for school in the morning.

Middle School Peers:

In middle school, your child is likely to see and meet children in her class that attended different elementary schools. This change can create anxieties about whether she will know students in her classes, have friends to eat lunch with, maintain old friendships, or meet new ones. Additionally, new middle schoolers make the transition from being “big fish in a little pond” in their elementary schools to “little fish in a big pond.” Shifting from being the oldest to the youngest students in school can be scary, and your child may have fears about these unknown upperclassmen.

Middle School “Friend” Strategies:

  • Acknowledge the big change in peers. Listen to your child’s fears, concerns, anxieties, and excitements and validate your child’s feelings as normal and okay.
  • Use a buddy system on the first day. Plan for your child to compare schedules with a friend and meet at school on the first day to go through their day together.
  • “Once school starts, create a space for your child to talk openly about her social experiences and listen to your child for any hints of bullying.

Classes and Homework Load:

One of the challenges I hear most is the homework load increase from elementary to middle school. Students have homework from multiple classes with varying due dates, which can create organizational difficulties. They may feel anxious about keeping track of assignments and due dates and feel overwhelmed by the increased work load.

Middle School Homework Strategies:

  • Help organize your child’s school work by creating one binder or multiple binders with a different divider for each class.
  • Use color-coded folders (ex. Blue for science homework, red for math homework, etc) so your child can transport her homework to and from school and keep track of her assignments.
  • Use a planner to write down which classes have assignments due on specific dates. You can teach your child how to use her planner before school starts so that she is not overwhelmed when teachers announce assignments.
  • Check in with your child about homework to see the areas in which your child may struggle. If your child is experiencing difficulties, reach out to teachers about peer tutoring, after-school help, or homework club.

Extra-curricular Activities:

Compared to elementary school, middle school offers many more opportunities to engage in various activities-community service, social clubs, academic clubs, and sports during and after school. These new activities can be very exciting but can also create some scheduling challenges. With an increased homework load, incorporating every activity your child is interested in may interfere with homework, already existing activities, and his sleep and rest!

Middle School Extra-Curricular Activity Strategies:

  • Encourage your child to go to informational meetings to learn about opportunities. You can talk to your child about which activities she is most excited about and help her make a list to prioritize.
  • Flexibility is key-“Why don’t we try soccer and community service club and see how you feel in a few weeks? If we need to take something out or add something, we can.”
  • Creating a visual schedule with your child is a fun way to help her stay organized and accountable for her schedule.

Anticipating the changes and potential challenges that come with middle school can help parents and children work together to ensure a smooth transition!

Please let us know, what transition strategies have you used that have worked?

*North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT to people submitting questions. Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.

Getting Your Infant Into A Routine

Sleeping BabyEstablishing a routine with your infant can help provide structure and answers during a very overwhelming time. The straightforward “Eat, Play, Sleep” routine, for example, is appropriate for the first several months of a newborn’s life. After starting this routine, you will better understand what your infant is communicating (e.g. a long discontented cry while playing means “Mom I’m tired!” since the step following “play” is “sleep.”). Your baby will also develop secure attachments to their caregivers as their needs are consistently and accurately being met. Additionally, implementing this routine can help your infant establish healthy nighttime rhythms so that everyone can get more sleep! 

Get this routine started by feeding your infant. Feeding will occur at least 10 to12 times per day during the first few weeks of life, giving you plenty of opportunities to initiate this routine. Second, “play” with him or her. A very young infant may play for only 5 to 10 minutes, but over the next several months the “play” step will stretch out to a couple of hours. Examples of playtime activities for very young infants are suggested below. Finally, put your infant down to sleep. After your child wakes up, the cycle begins again. The only exception to these steps occurs during nighttime hours, when you will eliminate the “play” step and simply feed your child before putting him or her down to sleep. This will help your infant understand that daytime is for playing and nighttime is for sleeping.

When initially starting this routine, some detective work will be required to determine when your child is truly hungry and when he or she is simply tired. Look for the following cues to help decide.

Hungry Cues From Your Baby:

  • Initiation of the “rooting reflex” – turning head to side and opening mouth
  • Sucking on hands or other objects, e.g. the caregiver’s shoulder or arm
  • Licking lips or smacking lips
  • Opening or closing mouth
  • General fussiness or crying after waking

Fatigued Cues:

  • Decreased engagement – won’t look at you or favorite objects for very long
  • Decreased movement
  • Eyes that are barely open
  • Yawning
  • Rubbing eyes or pulling on ears
  • General discontentedness and crying after playing

How can you play with a newborn or very young infant? Give your newborn sensory experiences, and remember that the world is a new and potentially overwhelming place.

Try not to do much too quickly or often, and try to stimulate only once sense at a time. 

  • Sing to him
  • Play with her hands and feet
  • Walk him around and tell him about his surroundings
  • Simple black and white toys such as rattles are appropriate for young infants. See if your infant will turn towards the sound of the rattle or look in its direction.
  • Play the “tongue game.” Mimic your baby’s tongue movements, and watch to your amazement as he repeats the same tongue movement! Many infants can play this game even after only a few weeks of life.

Enjoy this new and exciting time in your life!