Friday, November 6, 2009

Picture Schedules

I mentioned several posts ago that I was going to post the new picture schedule I created for Emerson - so here I am finally getting to it! These are often used to help kids who have trouble making transitions between activities, or for kids like Emerson who don't necessarily have trouble with transitions, but who dislike routines and fight it every step of the way. For instance, trying to apply sunscreen every morning is a lot like trying to wrestle a squealing, greased pig. (Or something like that - I'm not up on my farm similes.) These pictures make it more of a game to get through it...and letting him watch cartoons during the process doesn't hurt either. But more on that later.

I created this format using a combination of things I've seen, but if you do a Google image search for picture schedules, you'll get many more ideas. The pictures I used can be printed for free from a huge picture database on:

Here is his morning schedule (the one we use the most often since the night often just...happens...lately).

When it's time for a new activity, we move it to the front (I purchased these awesome velcro dots to make this work) and I repeat what the picture stands for. I.E. "Now it's time for sunscreen!" When the activity is finished, he gets to remove the picture and put it in the pocket folder (see last image).

Here is our night schedule:

This folder hasn't been used as much since I often forget to pull it out, but it's full of his favorite activities. I put two dots on the front so he can either pick between two favorite activities as a reward for something done well, or we can use it for the "First, then" method. This is when you take a hated activity (say...sunscreen) and put it on the first dot. Then the preferred activity (say bubbles or bike riding) goes on the second dot. The idea is to explain, "First we will do sunscreen, then bubbles." Sometimes this helps. Sometimes it doesn't.

Putting the picture in the folder seems like a lame reward, but kids get excited about strange things. The one thing I will say is that the schedules will lose their novelty for both parents and kids quickly. I find myself using them for a few days, then not for a few, then back to using them. It depends on how much your child craves strict routine (we still generally follow the routine, we just don't always use the pictures to help us, but some kids get very upset if things are not just so every day). I'm also inherently lazy.

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