Inside: It’s easy to create and use a preschool visual schedule for your classroom. Find out how–and why you should even want to use one!
Preschool Visual Schedules
Preschoolers are definitely visual learners. Let’s face it. They can’t read yet, so picture clues are essential! As teachers we often post a written schedule with times on it to refer to as the day progresses. And that’s fine for us adults. Really, it is. But little learners need visual cues to understand their day. There are actually several benefits of using a preschool visual schedule in your classroom. Want to learn more? Keep reading!
3 Key Benefits of Picture Schedules in the Classroom
1 Visual schedules help establish routines.
Routines are important for children. Predictable routines help students feel safe and secure. They help them know what to expect and when to expect it. A preschool visual schedule will help your students understand and follow the routines for your classroom, which in turn will help the entire day flow better.
2 Visual schedules ensure smoother transitions.
A visual schedule enables students to predict what comes next and to feel prepared. When there’s no confusion moving from one activity to another, there’s less time for off task behavior. There’s also less wasted instructional time, because you can quickly move from one activity to another with minimal disruption.
3 Visual schedules soothe anxious children.
The school day can seem quite long for little learners. And wondering when mom or dad will arrive can be a very stressful thing. Having a visual schedule to refer to throughout the day can help young children feel less anxious about school and can provide comfort. Visual schedules are especially great for Autistic students and for students with separation anxiety.
How to Create a Visual Schedule
When you create your preschool visual schedule, you need to be selective with which activities you include. A schedule could easily include 50 different images if you TRULY took the time to represent EVERY.SINGLE.THING that happens in a day. Be selective. Narrow your pictures down to the top 10-12 that truly represent a typical day in your classroom.
You can use actual photographs of your students completing the activities which is always fun and engaging for students. However, it may take you a few weeks to create your schedule as you take pictures, print them, and build your visual schedule.
I’ve found that using helpful clip art images is quicker and easier for me, and I’ve been able to create a visual schedule I can use year after year without having to reinvent the wheel every new school year.
Using a Template to Create Your Schedule
I use a template to create my preschool visual schedule. First, I print out the basic template background. This is what I’ll use to attach my individual pictures to as I move along.
Next, I print out the picture activity cards so I can choose which ones I want to include in our classroom visual schedule. Even though I print them all and look through them carefully, I try to narrow them down to just 10-12 to actually use.
After I’ve decided which cards will work best for our daily schedule activities, I cut those apart and place them in a pile. Then, I begin arranging them in order to represent the progression of our school day.
Once each of my template pages is laid out like I like it, I stick the schedule cards to the template with double-sided tape and then laminate the entire template page. You could always just place the cards in a pocket chart if that works better for your classroom!
Then, I hang my visual schedule vertically from top to bottom to show the schedule for the day. Next, I add a colorful clothespin so students can move the clip from activity to activity as our day progresses. The movable piece is a critical part of the preschool visual schedule. It’s how children keep up with where they are in the order of daily events and how they recognize the passage of time. Don’t leave that component out!
Ready to create a Picture Schedule for your own preschool or kindergarten classroom?
I’ve created a template for those who want a little guidance in creating their visual schedules. It includes the blank template pages as well as LOTS OF daily activities with corresponding pictures. Just follow the directions mentioned above, and you can create your own handy visual schedule for your little learners to refer to day in and day out. You can purchase the Visual Schedule Builder Template HERE!
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