Schedules & Routines for Children

by Zoe Read, TLC Teaching Assistant

Schedules and routines play an important role both at home and in the classroom, helping children prepare and feel comfortable with transitions throughout the day.  At TLC, we follow the Pyramid Plus teaching model, which utilizes different methods to communicate and engage children in smooth transitions from activity to activity.

One tool TLC teachers use to aid transitions is visual cards. Visual cards have pictures depicting what the class will be doing throughout the day. The cards help children be aware of and prepare for what is going to happen next in their classroom schedule. Children also have the opportunity to make decisions regarding what activities will be part of the routine, and when the activities will happen. Cards are often Velcroed to a yard stick, and children can rearrange them with the teacher's help and consent.  Each class has a daily Schedule Helper. When having group time, the day's Schedule Helper communicates to the other children what has happened, and what is going to happen next, preparing his or her fellow classmates for successful transitions through out the day while working on verbal skills and public speaking.

Using these same techniques can be helpful with home routines, too. Routines like getting ready for school, getting ready for bed, or trips to the grocery store can all be pre-planned using visual cards or similar tools, so a child is better prepared to transition from activity to activity and place to place.

The following links and resources can be helpful to parents and caretakers looking for other ideas to create smooth transitions and routines at home:

Teaching Your Child to be Successful with Routines (from Vanderbilt University)

Morning and bedtime printable routine lists

Create a Morning Schedule with Your Child:

Things you need

Universal File Folder Visual cards (search schedule cards on Pinterest or create your own) Velcro Laminating is a plus (but not a must)

My daughter, Shea, decorated the file folder on the outside and helped plan and create her schedule, which allowed her to engage in the process and have buy-in to the routine.  Having your child help can give him or her a sense of ownership, and can build excitement about schedule.

To make the schedule, place the Velcro on the back of the visual cards and then in the file on the left side. Then, take one side of the Velcro and place it on the other side of the envelope so when your child finishes that part of the schedule they take the card and move it to the other side.

When using this tool, the child is part of the process of choosing and completing tasks, and can feel a sense of accomplishment at seeing what tasks they have completed. To further break down the routine into manageable parts for younger children or children with developmental delays, you can also take pictures of the different stages of the routine (for example, squeezing toothpaste onto the toothbrush as a step). The schedule is fully personalizable to your child's needs.

Allowing your child to know and see what is going to be happening throughout their day helps them prepare and feel comfortable through transitions.

Zoe and her daughter Shea on the TLC playground

Are you a TLC parent who wants to learn more about positive behavior reinforcement at home? Come to TLC's Parent Toolkit Night on October 20th!