Incorporating visual schedules into your child’s day can help them learn routines, which ultimately helps them become more focused and engaged in activities throughout the day. Visual schedules can decrease the feeling of unfamiliarity and stress often associated with change. I know I find comfort in waking up and knowing what lies ahead of me for the day, and the same is true for children. Visual schedules are especially helpful for children with communication disorders, however all children can benefit for them. Developing routines can also promote a sense of security because your child knows what to expect. The use of fun relatable pictures can help your child become interested in a schedule and motivate them to become part of the process. Children can find a sense of order and organization when they can clearly see what their day looks like, which can help them transition throughout the day.
To make a daily visual schedule you can use a piece of cardboard, place a strip of Velcro on it and print pictures to symbolize different aspects of your day. You can even draw (or create on a computer) a weekly calendar and use Velcro to attach pictures for each day and time of the week. For example, you can use a picture of a cereal box to symbolize breakfast and put it on the calendar at 8AM, Monday through Friday to symbolize when breakfast will be given. After that you can Velcro a picture of a school bus to symbolize going to school and place that on the calendar Monday-Friday at the designated time. I suggest using a daily schedule for younger children and a weekly schedule for older children who will not get overwhelmed by seeing an entire weeks worth of activities planned out. I find that it’s easy to search for pictures on Google images, then place them in a word document where you can adjust the size and color. After I have created a page (or more) of pictures I print and laminate them to make them last longer (gluing them to cardboard or the back of a manila folder can have the same effect). To finish I add a piece of Velcro to the back and then place it on my calendar.
Here are some suggestions on what to incorporate into your visual schedule:
Keeping a routine for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time can help maintain a sense of order (and aid in digestion too!). Using a visual schedule for bedtime and nap-time can also be helpful and can make this time of the day easier for you and your child. Using a picture for homework can also be beneficial and make this time of the day less of a struggle. If a child can visually see that after homework time, he or she can watch TV or play then he or she will be more willing to complete this task. Incorporating “down time” such as watching TV or playtime can be motivating for a child and can help them engage in other tasks throughout the day. They will be able to visually see that they need to get through other tasks such as homework before they can play. Children these days can be so incredibly busy that it is important for their health and well being to have “down time”.
Weekends can be full of changes and unexpected events so it is important to prepare your child for these changes. One way to do this is to change the background color for these days on your calendar or change the background color of the pictures so they can visually see that Saturdays and Sundays are different than the rest of the week. Make sure to incorporate anything that is different such as trips, visits, and mealtime/bedtime changes into your schedule. Obviously unexpected events will arise, so if possible try to change the visual schedule before the event and explain to your child why that event is changing. If that’s not possible talk to your child after the event and change it on the visual schedule to help them process the change. If you feel your child needs a visual schedule during school talk to your child’s teacher and find out if one can be followed at school.
Visual schedules can help your child get into a routine, decrease stress, and aid in smooth transitions from one event to another. Give it a try and let us know how it works out!
Fall can be a hectic and overwhelming time for children and parents. School is in full swing, and after school activities have begun. If you’re a parent you probably feel like you spend more time in the car driving your kids to karate, soccer, dance, gymnastics, etc. than at home. Here are a few tips on how to take advantage of time spent in the car by playing some fun language based games (while keeping your kids entertained and engaged at the same time!).
Language Games to Play in the Car
- Categories: To begin this game one person picks a category (such as, animals). Each person takes a turn naming something in that category. If someone repeats an item or is unable to think of something in the category, he/she is out. To make this more difficult (and target memory) you could have each person repeat what the previous person has stated. For example, if Mom goes first and says “dog”, then the next person has to repeat the word “dog” and name another animal. This can get very difficult as more words are added. You can also add more detail and descriptive words, such as making the category “animals with tails, or green animals.
- Rhyming: Rhyming is a great way to practice and develop phonological awareness skills. Someone in the car can pick an object they see out the window, and say a word that rhymes with it. For example if you see a tree, a rhyming word might be “bee, see, or we”. Everyone in the car takes turns naming something that rhymes with the original word. You can include “nonsense” words as well and have your child tell you if it is a made up word or a real one. Additionally, you can make this a memory game and repeat the words that were said before you add to the list. If someone repeats a word or can’t think of one then they are out. The last person rhyming wins!
- Guess It: To start someone thinks of an object in his/her head and gives three clues to describe it. Then the rest of the people in the car have to ask questions and guess what the object is. The person who guesses it first wins! The person who correctly guesses the object than gets to pick the next word and describe it. If needed the person thinking of a word can provide more details if the players are having trouble guessing. This is a great way to incorporate descriptive words, and get your kids thinking.
Have fun playing everyone!
It’s that time of year again… back to school! This can be a stressful time for parents and children, however it is a great opportunity to make speech part of your new daily routine. There are many ways to incorporate speech into daily activities. One way is during story time before bed. Reading to your child before bed is a fun way to encourage literacy, increase receptive language (listening), expressive language (speaking), increase their vocabulary, and even work on articulation! While reading, ask your child questions about the story (i.e., “what do you think will happen next?”) and encourage them to ask you questions, and actively participate during reading.
A great book to read during this time of year is, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books, by Lucille Colandro.
It is “back to school” themed and always gets a good laugh. To make reading the book even more fun, you can create your own “Old Lady” and have your child feed her the items she eats in the book. Just print out the “Old Lady” and items she eats (links are below). To make the “Old Lady” print and cut out the template, then decorate a tissue box or shoe box with fun paper (or patterned duck tape like I did) and glue her to the box (a picture of my finished product is below). Make sure to cut out her mouth! Then print the items she eats, cut them out and voila, you’ve got a fun game to go along with the book. To make the pictures last longer you can laminate them or glue them to index cards or an old folder. To play, every time the “Old Lady” eats something in the book, your child can find that item’s picture card and “feed” it to the old lady. After reading the book you can take out all the items and ask your child to sequence them in the order the “Old Lady” ate them. Your child can help you make the game too, which will make reading the book even more exciting for them. Instilling a love for reading at a young age can help your child in all areas of his/her life and allow them to use their imagination while increasing literacy skills!
Click the links below to access the “Old Lady” and the picture cards.
(Thanks to Katie at: http://www.playingwithwords365.com/2012/03/freebie-friday-feed-the-old-lady-who-swallowed-the-clover/)
Old Lady Books Picture Cards
And here is my finished product 🙂