Do you ever feel like life with young children gets too chaotic? Feel like you need to keep repeating directions? Do children have trouble switching from one activity to the next? A daily picture schedule can help!
Do you remember the expression, “One picture is worth a thousand words”? This is very true for young children. By adding pictures to support your words, children follow routines more smoothly, with greater independence, and fewer behavior problems.
Why You Should Use a Daily Picture Schedule
Sometimes children come to you needing your help to feel:
- More secure by making their world more predictable.
- Comforted by creating a sense of belonging to a group.
- Feel more sure of what is expected, so that they can follow a direction and gain cooperation skills.
A Picture Schedule can help provide each of these things for a young child. It is also not just children who come out winning with this, it also helps all of us stay organized and on-track. Anyone interested in the field of early childhood knows that we get pulled in 10 different directions. A picture schedule is an agreement between everyone that we are committed to staying on track. A picture schedule becomes an invisible “police officer”. We can say, “Oh, look at that, what does the schedule say is next?”
This reduces power struggles by adding this “third” point of view. It’s amazing when you see it in action. Ask a child to check the schedule to see what is next, or remove the picture and take it to show them. What? No power struggle or complaint? Magic!
Tips For Using a Picture Schedule
The daily picture schedule needs to do more than just hang in the room to get this full impact. The idea is to start by teaching it, and then, always refer to it. As children are learning the symbols, you will want to check for understanding. Try pulling the pictures randomly out of a bag, to make sure that the children understand what each picture represents. Don’t just say, “Time for outdoor play! when it is time for a transition. Take the “Outdoor Play” picture out of the schedule, hold up the picture to show the child/group, while you use words to support it.
Make sure to balance calm and active, child-directed and adult-directed, and individual or group time, as you create your schedule.
Making the commitment to a picture schedule can feel a little confining at first. However, it is helpful to remember that with consistency comes the freedom to be more responsive to individual children instead of “putting out fires.” It really helps a teacher, childcare provider, or parent be available for all of the children in their care.
Enjoy smoother transitions with picture schedules. It’s not just children who come out winning, it also helps caregivers and teachers stay organized and on track.