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Visual schedules can be helpful to students in a variety of situations. If you are looking to create a visual schedule for your students, check out this lesson for some templates to get you started.

Visual Schedules

Many students with special needs benefit from a visual representation of their schedule.

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Visual schedules can help students to reduce anxiety, increase organization and attention, and even address problematic behaviors. Let’s look at some templates.

Daily Schedule

Classroom Schedule

If you are a classroom teacher, you probably already post a daily schedule.

For students with special needs, it can help to add a picture component to your schedule. Look at these examples.

Examples of classroom visual schedules
daily schedules

The top schedule in the picture shows a schedule with both the printed word and a picture to represent each activity. The use of a pocket chart allows for easy schedule assembly every day, and gives you the option of removing each schedule item as it is completed.The bottom schedule in the picture shows a picture schedule mounted horizontally.

This schedule is made with foam board and velcro, and separated into numbered sections. The schedule pictures can be velcroed to the board each day.

Individual Schedule

Some of your students might benefit from having their own personal schedule. Here is one example.

A personal daily schedule
personal schedule

This image shows a schedule using velcro and a clipboard. Another option is to put velcro on the outside of a small binder, storing the pieces inside.

For a personal schedule, you can choose to portray the entire day at once, or break the day into smaller segments, such as before and after lunch.

Single Activity Schedule

Another use of the visual schedule is to break down the steps of an individual activity for a student. This is especially useful if a student is struggling with a specific part of the day, such as arrival time or going to the library. A single activity schedule uses task analysis, showcasing the steps of the activity. This image shows an example of an arrival schedule that could be used for a student.

You could use generic pictures, or you could personalize it by using photos of the student’s belongings.

A visual schedule for arrival routines
single activity schedule

Behavior Schedule

Another form of visual schedule is a behavior schedule.

A behavior schedule might show a student what he or she needs to do in order to gain a break or reward. For example:

  • Morning Work
  • Morning Meeting
  • Break/Reward
  • Math Group
  • Math Seatwork
  • Break/Reward

Pictures for Your Schedule

Where can you find pictures for your visual schedules? There are several options to consider.

  • Use clipart from your computer or an internet image search.
  • Check with your school’s speech therapist to see if your district owns any image generating software such as is often used with communication devices.

  • Use real photographs. For students at a lower level of cognitive understanding, photographs reduce the level of abstraction and increase the usefulness of the schedule.

Lesson Summary

Visual schedules can be of great benefit to students with special needs. You might consider adding a picture component to your daily class schedule, creating personal schedules for specific students, using task analysis to create single activity schedules, or creating visual behavior schedules.

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