Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

August 9, 2021

Visual Schedules

By: Scott Buie, MOT, OTR/L

What is a Visual Schedule?

A visual schedule is a sequence of pictures or words that can be used to help create a plan for the day. It can be used only for specific times throughout the day (i.e. morning routine) or used throughout the entire day.  A visual schedule can be particularly beneficial for children who have difficulty with transitioning between different activities.

Benefits of a Visual Schedule

  • Visual schedules help children follow a routine.
  • They provide structure and accountability.
  • Transitions can be hard for everyone. However, having pictures or words that show the next activity makes transitioning between tasks easier.
  • Provides a way to sequence the different tasks for that day.
  • Helps promote independence and provides choices. For example, have your child help you plan the activities for the day. While planning, offer your child choices. For example, you may ask, “Do you want to play catch first or go to the park?”
  • Visual schedules are also helpful for managing changes in routine.

How to Create a Visual Schedule

  • There are a lot of free printable resources online.
  • To make your own visual schedule, you’ll need the following supplies:
    • scissors
    • Velcro/masking tape or clear tape
    • clear plastic page protector sheets or laminator
    • pictures of daily activities (many can be found in the template links below)
  • Choose a template. Templates can be customized to your needs: (i.e. First, Next, Last or 1, 2, 3, 4)
  • Laminate or put template in clear plastic sleeve
  • Place Velcro or masking tape in center of each space where a picture will be placed.
  • Print out routine pictures. Cut out and laminate pictures. (Note: If you don’t have a laminator, you can cover the paper with clear packing tape for a similar effect.)
  • Add a piece of Velcro to each of the picture cards.

Resources with free templates: