Visual Schedule Systems
Visual schedule systems are an easy way to provide students with consistent cues about their daily activities. They provide a structure that allows a student to anticipate what will happen next, reduce anxiety by providing the student with a vision of his/her day and promote calmness between transitions. They are especially important for students who have a profile that includes difficulties with the understanding of oral language and directions. The consistency provided by a visual schedule is crucial in establishing an atmosphere of trust and security. Visual supports can also provide motivation to work through a less favoured activity knowing a favoured activity is to follow.
For example, using the First This /Then That strategy in visual form can provide high motivation for the student to work through one activity to get to a preferred activity. When dealing with students with behavioural difficulties, this can be a powerful strategy in maintaining appropriate classroom behaviour. For non-verbal students a visual schedule can be a way to introduce symbols that the student can eventually use as an alternate form of communication. Through the consistent use of the schedule, the student can begin to pair the symbols presented with the activities that are occurring. A sure sign that this association is developing is seeing the student begin to rearrange their schedule to include all of their favorite activities. Establishing a visual schedule can also provide a structure for the student to begin to do some choice making as they are encouraged to provide some input as to the order of some of the day's events. The student may also be introduced to choosing a specific activity from a teacher-selected group of activities.
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