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Daily Visual Schedule for Kids – Free Printable to Download

Recently I've read so many tips about how to work from home, how to homeschool and/or how to deal with life in isolation/quarantine/lockdown.

Marisa Howenstine Unsplash

All of them advise that one of the keys to keeping family harmony, productivity and personal mental health high is to implement a structured, but flexible, routine. I love this advice from a nun who's been social distancing for 29 years.

‘Your normal day-to-day lives have structure imposed on them from the outside; you have to catch the train at a certain time to go to work, you have school recess at the same time every day. These things give you a sense of consistency and rhythm.

Now that you are stuck at home, create a schedule for yourself and your family. At the monastery, we wake up at the same time every day and get fully dressed (no pyjamas). We have planned time for prayer, worship, work, eating and fun. Our days usually have a peaceful rhythm. This might take some experimentation; each household is different and for many, it might be the first time they spend an extended period of time with roommates or family.'

Even before we started working and learning from home we have been using a daily visual schedule. While visual schedules are commonly used in a therapy setting (read: benefits of a visual schedule and visual schedules: a practical guide for families), I think they're useful for ALL kids, particularly in a time of uncertainty and change. 

 

Benefits of a visual schedule for kids

I am a very routine-based and structured person so I have always been a firm believer that routine and structure provides kids with a sense of calmness and security.  It can be really overwhelming or confusing for a child if every day looks different and they don't know what to expect. I know for myself that I don't enjoy unexpected deviations from what I've planned!

      Josh Applegate Unsplash

At the moment, having a visual schedule that includes our daily tasks (eg brushing teeth), household chores (eg setting the table) and new routines (eg daily exercise, board games, screen time) have made life a bit smoother in a time of massive uncertainty and change. 

It helps our kids with their ability to order tasks (apparently you can't expect kids to be able to do this consistently until they're about 8 years old). It calmly reminds them what they're supposed to be doing or what's next when they get distracted (instead of me shouting ‘have you brushed your teeth?!?'). Even though it's almost the same routine every day I've accepted that sometimes my kids just can't remember what to do next!

The visual schedule also shows them what changes to the norm might be happening that day and helps manage expectations and transitions. 

Child study colouring

In particular, having the kids' screen time scheduled into the day means that (a) I can arrange it for times when I need to be working and (b) the kids know it's coming and can look forward to it or be incentivised by it. Seeing it set out in the daily schedule also minimises the kids nagging for screen time or fighting about who gets how much screen time!

Consistent routines are particularly helpful for kids with autism, ADHD and/or sensory issues. Visual schedules are a common tool used by occupational therapists to assist kids with executive functioning ie the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. 

 

How to make a visual schedule for kids 

Making a visual schedule is easy! It takes about 20 minutes and if your kids are old enough they can help. My kids LOVE laminating and cutting!

To make your own visual schedule you'll need:

You can also order the Daily Visual Schedule, with all 84 activity cards made and shipped to you, with the ‘Done For Me' Option. Just $29.95 and free shipping! 

 

Visual Schedule 7

Instructions:

  1. Print each page in A4, one-sided, in landscape format, in colour. 
  2. Laminate each A4 page.

Visual Schedule 1

3. Cut each laminated A4 page along the lines into the 4 separate activity cards – you will end up with 4 x long strips. It's easier to laminate first and then to cut, rather than cutting then trying to laminate thin strips. 

Visual Schedule 6

 

How to use the visual schedule with kids

Every day you stick up activity cards on the wall using Blu-tack or fill a daily schedule pocket chart (take out the cards that come with the pocket chart and just use the see-through pockets to hold your activity cards).

Visual Schedule 9

Place the relevant activity cards in the order in which the day's activities are to be done eg
– Get dressed
– Go to the toilet
– Wash hands
– Make bed
etc

Note that it's a schedule ie an order of events rather than a timetable. That's because some tasks eg washing hands take only 1 minute, but Maths may take 60 minutes, and it's overwhelming to have every single activity timetabled! 

If you do want to show an activity happening at a specific time, I suggest using a dry erase/whiteboard marker and writing the time on the top corner eg 12:00pm Lunch. 

As each activity is done, take the activity card off the wall or pocket chart and store it in a container or basket. 

Visual Schedule 10

While this whole process may seem really tedious at first – trust me it takes 5 minutes maximum at night to get your activity cards ready for the morning and it will make your day a lot smoother! After some time, once routines are more embedded, you can be less specific with the order of activities.

 

Download free visual schedule for kids

The daily visual schedule contains 7 different activity groups that cover most activities that a toddler, preschooler and primary-age child will undertake in a day. 

Daily Visual Schedule School Work

Some of the sheets have blank cards so that you can make your own activity cards. Also, some activity cards are repeated eg brush teeth happens twice a day. There are 84 activity cards in total. 

Each visual schedule printable has pictures plus words so it is good for toddlers who can't yet read. In fact, the earlier you can start setting up these routines the better!

PS The wonderful illustrations in the daily visual schedule were commissioned from Melbourne artist Jess Dubblu

To get your copy, just complete this form!

You can also order the Daily Visual Schedule, with all 84 activity cards made and shipped to you, with the ‘Done For Me' Option. Just $29.95 and free shipping! 

 

 
Kristyna Hess Lockdown Portraits 1000 X 667

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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