Schedules can make a positive difference in a child’s behavior in class or at home. When a schedule is established, children know what is coming next and what is expected of them. Knowing what comes next decreases anxiety because there is no uncertainty about what they are going to do.

As adults, we organize our day and make our own decisions, so we know what comes next. Imagine doing one thing and having no idea what will happen when you’re done, or imagine someone coming up to you before you’re done with something you enjoy, stopping you from doing what you’re doing and demanding you do something else. These situations would stress or frustrate most people. This is often what happens to children when schedules are not set.

Young children or children with autism or other disabilities such as ADHD may become anxious or frustrated when told to do something they didn’t expect or when told abruptly to stop a preferred activity. This could lead to challenging behaviors. They may also have trouble remembering or visualizing if you simply tell them how the day will unfold. A schedule makes it easier to understand, follow, and remember the expectations for the day.

Also, when a schedule is established, children get used to their routine. Although the schedules should vary slightly from day to day to allow for flexibility, they should be similar enough to allow the child to feel comfortable and familiar with their routine. When a child is comfortable with her routine, he also feels less anxious and needs fewer reminders from you about what is expected.

When you first start the schedule, you may need to give your child several reminders to review it (stay calm so you don’t throw your child off schedule), but as it becomes a normal part of your day, you may start reviewing it. on your own. The ultimate goal is for the child to become so familiar with her schedule that he begins to implement it independently without even looking. For example, let’s say your child’s schedule upon returning from school is:

Sandwich

Homework for half an hour.

10 minute break for a fun activity.

Homework for another half hour.

Watch TV for half an hour.

Set the table

have dinner

Play on the computer (half an hour)

order the bedroom

put on your pajamas

read a story

lie down

If you consistently implement this program, your child can begin to implement some of these tasks without your prompting. It will be so nice for your child to complete her homework, set the table, and tidy up her room without constant reminders from her part. Also, if she is expected to follow the schedule, you are setting up a realistic way to hold your child accountable for her own behavior. Children often have high expectations. They have trouble being accountable because they have a hard time managing their tasks in an organized way. A schedule allows them to do this. Setting a schedule is also a way to enforce the rules. The rule is that one thing must be completed on the schedule before moving on to the next. If your child tries to connect to the computer before completing homework, just look at the schedule and say “remember her schedule, she must complete her homework before connecting to the computer.” Blaming the rule on the schedule is a great way to avoid confrontation. It sounds very different to a child to hear you refer to a schedule than to hear you say, “You didn’t complete your homework, so you can’t use the computer.”

Children who are not used to the approach of enforcing a daily schedule may initially complain or argue, but when they see that you will implement it consistently and not budget in your position, they will learn to follow the rules. Some children even find completing a schedule fun.

Allow the child to participate in creating a schedule at home. At school, schedules are often created by the teacher, but let the kids in your class participate if possible. Once the schedule is created, go over it thoroughly with the child to the best of her ability to ensure understanding. For children with speech and language delays or difficulties, such as those on the autism spectrum, visual schedules with pictures of each activity may work best (resources for picture schedules are at the end of this article). how to use the program a few times before implementing it, rather than a verbal explanation.

To reinforce the schedule, acknowledge the child’s efforts in following the schedule (e.g., “good job on your schedule tonight,” “good job on your schedule. You were very responsible in completing your schedule, etc.) Children with language difficulties may benefit from a visual or tangible reward instead of or in conjunction with verbal recognition.

For any child who completes a schedule, you can link motivational rewards to completing the schedule. For example, you can tell the child that she can choose a special activity of her choice if she follows her schedule for a certain number of days. For a child with language difficulties, who may not understand that you are offering a reward after successfully completing the program for a certain number of days, simply automatically reward them for following the program after reaching a predetermined goal. For example, if your child loves to play with shaving cream or jump on a trampoline, let him do it as a reward for using the schedule properly. Point to the schedule with a smile or a thumbs up when rewarded to help him make the connection.

Make the goal realistic for the child. For a child with multiple problem behaviors, a day of completing a schedule can be a big accomplishment and reward-worthy. For a child with less problematic behaviors, he may spend five days successfully completing the schedule before receiving a reward. As the child becomes more comfortable with her schedule and is more successful in following the rules of the schedule or completing it, he may be able to modify the frequency with which he earns his reward, with the ultimate goal of toning down the reward. . Please refer to my article “How to Praise Your Children” to better understand the use of rewards and why they are not considered pieces of appropriate behavior.

Here are some behaviors to look for that may indicate a schedule will help:

-Significant disorganization

-Trouble remembering or figuring out what you should be doing.

-Frequent inattention or off-task behavior (for off-task students, you can point or remind them of their schedule to redirect them to homework)

-Trouble knowing what to do without structure

– Oppositional or defiant behavior

Put the schedule somewhere where the child can always see it. Laminating the schedule can help keep it from tearing or wrinkling.

I understand that for parents and teachers with multiple children or many additional responsibilities, a schedule can be difficult to stick to. Do the best you can, enforcing the rules as best as possible. If it doesn’t work for you or your child, that’s okay. Not every behavioral strategy I write about will work for every child. These strategies are recommendations based on what I have seen work for various children in my career and based on research. [e.g., Michael B. Ruef (1998) indicated that increasing predictability and scheduling and appreciating positive behavior promotes positive behavioral changes and Banda and Grimmett (2008), documented the positive effects schedules have on social and transition behaviors in individuals with autism.].

Options to create images for schedules and visual rewards

1- Search Google Images for the images you want to use, print them and laminate them. You can laminate at any Staples store or buy your own laminator and laminating patches, like the Scotch Thermal Laminator Combo Pack on Amazon.com.

If you work at a school, they may already have a laminator for you to use. If you’re a parent, you might also try asking your child’s school if they can help you laminate some pictures for a schedule at home.

2. Purchase ready-to-use laminated images, such as 160 Autism Communication Laminated Images, also on Amazon.com.

3. Create images and schedules in an iPad app like Choiceworks, print and laminate them.

4. Use computer software to create and print your own images, such as Visual Essentials Templates and Photos Collectionwhich has 3000 photos, templates and layouts and photo calendars that are pre-made for daily routines related to housework, hygiene and more.

How to Create Motivational Charts and Time Boards

You can create your own motivational charts with Microsoft Word (insert table), search Google Images for free motivational charts templates, or buy ready-made motivational charts on Amazon.com.

It is recommended that graphics be laminated to prevent tears or wrinkles.

You can Velcro your images to your charts or copy and paste images, such as those from Google Images, into a Microsoft Word chart.

You can also take a regular sheet of paper or construction paper, laminate it, and Velcro pictures to the paper.

Another option is to purchase a time strip or time pocket chart which can be found on Amazon.com. You can also see what a time strip or time pocket chart looks like by searching Google Images.

You can also make your own time strip by laminating construction paper and purchasing Velcro or double-sided tape.

For children who need to toggle between preferred and non-preferred activities or need to know what is happening first and then next and may be confused by a visual schedule with more than two pictures, you can also create a first/later board using the same instructions provided. previously. A board first/then shows an image of the expected task first and then the preferred activity next, usually side by side. See an image of a dashboard first/after on Google Images.

Keep in mind that children often benefit from removing or crossing off what they have already completed on their schedule. If you have removable pictures or words (attached with velcro, tape, etc.), allow the child to take the piece from the schedule board and put it in an envelope, container, etc., that is attached near the schedule. Some pocket charts have a pocket at the bottom to place the completed items.

Also, you can find some ready-to-use magnetic calendars/motivational charts in one, with images included, on Amazon.com.