For students with disabilities, consistency is key. Using the same tools and strategies at school, home, and in the community can be incredibly beneficial, as it provides a sense of familiarity and predictability that can help students feel more comfortable and confident in their abilities throughout multiple environments.
One of the best ways we can provide consistency between school, home, and the community is to use the same tools in all environments for a seamless transition. For example, if a student is using a visual timer to help manage their time and stay on task at school, it can be incredibly helpful for them to continue using this same exact timer at home. This way, the student is already familiar with how the timer works and can easily integrate it into their daily routine.
Before we jump into how to use a visual timer throughout a variety of environments, let’s talk overall about why using a visual timer can be so helpful! By providing a visual representation of time, timers can help students better manage their time, stay on task, and even help with transitions between activities. Incorporating visual timers into daily routines can provide structure and support for students with disabilities, helping children to succeed in both academic and independent living skills, all while reinforcing time management.
Ideas for Using Visual Timers at School
- Visual timers can help students understand how much time they have to complete an independent assignment during class time.
- They can be used during transition times, such as between classes or activities, to help students understand how much time they have to get ready for the next task.
- Visual timers can be especially helpful during recess when children need to understand how much time they have to play before returning to class.
- Teachers can use visual timers for various activities, such as classroom cleanup time or group work.
Ideas for Using Visual Timers at Home:
- Visual timers can help children (and adults!) manage their time and stay on track with daily routines at home.
- They can be used to help children understand how much time they have to complete their homework or chores.
- Visual timers can also be used to help children understand how much time they have left before bedtime or before they need to leave for school.
- Incorporating visual timers into home routines can provide structure and help students feel more in control of their time.
Ideas for Using Visual Timers in the Community:
- At the playground: A visual timer can be used to help children understand how much time they have left to play before it's time to go home.
- At the library: A visual timer can be used to help children understand how much time they have to read or complete an activity at the library. (Silent, visual timers are great in quiet environments!)
- At the grocery store: A visual timer can be used to help children understand how much time they have to shop or wait in line at the checkout. This can help reduce anxiety and improve overall outcomes in situations that can often be overwhelming.
- At the doctor's office: A visual timer can be used to help children understand how much time they have to wait before seeing the doctor. This can help reduce anxiety and improve the overall experience of doctor visits.
More Tips for Using Visual Timers at School, Home, and in the Community:
- Be consistent with your use of visual timers in multiple rooms around the house and settings within the school.
- Display the visual timer in a visible location so that a child can easily see it.
- Encourage children to use the visual timer independently, once they become comfortable with it.
And, when you find that a visual timer is effective at school, at home, and in the community, please discuss with your IEP team to have the visual timer written into the accommodations section of the IEP. This will ensure the visual timers are listed as a required support for your child’s or student’s day.
About our Guest Author
Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed. - Founder of Master IEP Coach® Certificate and Mentorship programs, host of the Special Education Inner Circle Podcast. Helping parents, teachers, admins, and therapists become the Idea Bringers, Solution Finders, and Team Builders at the IEP table by providing IEP Leadership & Strategy trainings nationwide.