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How to Use a Visual Schedule to Increase Productivity at Home and in the Classroom

Posted by Christen Barbercheck on

 

For students of all abilities, being able to visualize tasks can be very helpful for increasing productivity, especially considering that so many people are visual learners 

This is true for children with disabilities, especially children with autism. These children often benefit from visual learning strategies such as the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), where students communicate using pictures.  

Whether you are in a classroom or home that makes use of PECS or not, visual communication can be instrumental in increasing productivity and understanding, which is why you should consider implementing a visual schedule into your home.  

 

What is a Visual Schedule?  

Visual scheduling is a method that is used for both education and building general communication skills.  

A visual schedule represents, in pictorial form, time-sensitive activities and tasks that you may have scheduled throughout the day.  

 

Visual Schedules in the Classroom 

Many students, especially those with autism, find the concept of time to be very abstract. These same children readily grasp visual expressions of time-sensitive tasks, especially when laid out clearly in a visible sequence.  

With a visual rundown, you can reduce “time anxiety” much easier in the classroom. Whether you are showing the order for a certain group activity or letting an individual student cross activities off their own schedule.  

By reducing the abstract aspect of time for students, it becomes easier for them to understand what they have to do throughout a certain time period.  

 

Visual Schedules at Home 

Whether it is getting your kids to brush their teeth, telling them how much time they have at the breakfast table before they need to get ready for school, or other tasks, there are many great uses for a visual schedule.   

Chores and other necessities can be a struggle for children to get through, but using a visual schedule can make these things easier, specifically through useful methods such as creating a sequence on the schedule where children have a mix of “fun” activities with “boring” ones. This can increase motivation to get through the day’s activities through the perception of the day as a work/play split.  

Once you incorporate a visual schedule into your and your kids’ daily routine, your children will become much more acclimated to the concept that many activities, from serious to fun, are time-dependent.   

 

Making a Visual Schedule With or Without PEC Cards 

If you have PEC cards in the classroom or at home, you can easily boost their effectiveness by combining them with a visual schedule.  

The visual communication cards from PECS can serve as the basis for a visual schedule that can communicate an order of activities, such as reading before lunch.  

Horizontally or vertically arranging PEC cards in chronological order, meant to represent an intended schedule, can give children an easy reference point that will keep them from losing track of time, or the order of the day’s activities.  

Additionally, since the children will know what PEC cards mean, they will interpret the time-related nature of the schedule as being communicated in a form already familiar to them, making time even easier to grasp and learn about.   

A good classroom or at-home activity is having children try to create, or otherwise represent, their daily schedule with PEC cards. Having to create the schedule can help them not only figure out what schedule would work best for them, but better understand how time works, how much of daily life depends on working in accordance to time.  

Even without PEC cards, you can still make a visual schedule. You can print off pictures from the Internet, take pictures yourself of your kids doing activities, or even draw them—having your kids draw the activities and tasks can be doubly helpful for them, as they’ll relate to and easily understand the image.  

 

Time Timer MOD + Dry Erase Board - The Perfect Tool for Visual Schedules  

 

 

If you already own Time Timer products, then you know that they are already designed for a visual time-telling experience, which fits right in with creating a visual schedule.  

A great option for anyone looking to make a visual scheduler with or without PEC cards is to use our new Time Timer Dry Erase Board, which can be used to draw activities, or attach pictures to the board with captions written in marker.  

Additionally, the built-in Time Timer visual timers red disk can elapse alongside the image of the task at hand, so kids who normally struggle with time will find it easier to complete time-sensitive tasks.  

 

 

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