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Minimize the Meltdown: How to use visual schedules to seamlessly move between activities.

As a parent, caregiver, or even a therapist, you know the feeling of dread when you're about to transition your cute, happy, sweet kiddo from something they enjoy doing to something they don't prefer. Just thinking about this starts to give me the stress sweats, but I want to share a tool that I use to help make these transitions easier. I'm talking about (drumroll please...VISUAL SCHEDULES)!

Visual schedules have saved me from some massive meltdowns, a time or two, and I hope this resource can save you from some meltdowns too!

Transitions are an inherent part of a child's daily routine, whether it's moving from playtime to mealtime, from classroom activities to outdoor recess, or saying goodbye to mom or dad at drop-off for school! For many children, transitions can be challenging and overwhelming. However, the strategic use of visuals can be a game-changer in easing these transitions and promoting smoother, more successful outcomes.

Check out the following to understand why it may be beneficial to use a schedule and download a free example of a visual schedule that you can print and use for your everyday routines!

1. Clarity and Predictability: Visuals provide children with a clear understanding of what is expected of them during transitions. Whether it's a visual schedule, a countdown timer, or a picture representation of the upcoming activity, visuals offer a tangible way for children to comprehend the sequence of events and mentally prepare for the change.

2. Reduced Anxiety and Stress: Transitioning from one activity to another can be anxiety-inducing for many children. Visuals act as a calming tool, offering a sense of predictability and structure that helps alleviate anxiety and reduce stress levels. When children know what to expect, they are better equipped to manage their emotions and behavior during transitions.

3. Improved Independence and Self-Regulation: By empowering children with the information they need to navigate transitions independently, visuals promote self-regulation and autonomy. When children have access to visual cues that outline the steps involved in moving from one activity to another, they are less reliant on adult guidance and more capable of taking ownership of their actions.

4. Enhanced Communication and Understanding: For children who may struggle with communication, visuals serve as another way of conveying information. Visual supports such as picture cards, symbols, or written instructions enable children to comprehend expectations more easily and communicate their needs and preferences effectively.

5. Individualized Support: One of the greatest strengths of visual supports is their adaptability to meet the unique needs of each child. Visuals can be personalized based on a child's interests, preferences, and developmental level, ensuring that the support provided is tailored to their specific requirements. Whether it's using photographs, drawings, or written words, visuals can be customized to resonate with the individual child and enhance their overall experience.

Incorporation of visual schedules into daily routines can be a powerful tool for supporting children during transitions. By offering clarity, predictability, and structure, visuals help reduce anxiety, promote independence, and enhance communication and understanding. As educators, caregivers, and parents, we have the opportunity to harness the power of visuals to create environments that promote positive transitions and empower children to GROW.

The following visual schedule is a generic "first, then" schedule. I recommend printing this and placing it in a sheet protector, then drawing simple pictures in the boxes. For example, "first do homework, then play with toys." For this "first then" schedule, I would simply draw a piece of paper with a pencil to signify homework and blocks to signify play with toys. Remember, you do not have to be an artist! Do your best, label the pictures, and honestly, your child will think you are the best artist in the world!

I hope this blog helps parents during some of the harder parts of their child's day. If you still need help, remember you can always contact us; we are here to help!

To download the the picture:

  1. Right click the image

  2. Click "Save image as"

  3. Name the image whatever you would like

  4. Find the image under then name you saved it

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