Sometime around the beginning of October I begin to get a little worn out with the questions, “When is it recess?” “Do we have art or gym today?” “Is it choice time yet?” etc…. Just when I want to groan with the next question, I know it is time to pull out the visual schedule.
I know that using visual schedules is common practice for students with special needs. It helps them to plan their day, anticipate transitions, and feel comforted that they know what is to come. Well, it does the same thing for every child in the class.
I like to use a schedule that pairs images and words – it works in kindergarten. One side of my schedule is for what happens before lunch, and the other for after lunch. I don’t include everything – that would be overwhelming. But I do include the major chunks of the day.
Now, I delightedly watch as my students read the schedule and anticipate for themselves what will come next!
A few other bonuses have come from the visual schedule. This helps my students understand the structure of reading and writing workshops. Because it is defined in the schedule (shared reading, independent reading, partner reading, share time) they begin to internalize the structure.
The schedule has also helped me to make changes. For example, we just started getting our writing tools ready before coming to the carpet for minilesson. I was worried my kids would struggle to remember this, so we added a card to the schedule as a visual reminder, and it has worked like a charm!
You may wonder why I don’t start with the schedule right away. Well, the beginning of the year is unpredictable. I don’t know my students yet, so it is tough to predict what we will accomplish in a day. I tend to overplan just in case, but I am often left with things unfinished. I don’t want to overwhelm my students with a jammed schedule. It also takes us a while to get into our routines properly. By October, things are ticking along at a nice pace. Many kids have internalized the schedule anyway, and the rest just need a little visual prompt. So the timing is perfect!
Do you use a whole class visual schedule in your classroom! Please share any tips or frustrations you may have!