The Importance of Visual Schedules in Special Ed

If you’re a Special Education teacher or parent, you’ve likely heard of the importance of using visual schedules. But do you use them?

While every student will have different needs when it comes to posting a schedule, it’s crucial to have SOME sort of system in place. 

One option to try is individual schedules for each student. The example schedule above is meant for a student who can read, likes to see their whole week at a time, prefers color coordination, and does not need images in connection to text. 

You can teach the student to check their schedule first thing in the morning (digitally or on paper), and remind them that they can look at it if they have questions about what is happening next / later in the day. 

This is a good solution when every student has a very different schedule, which is common in Transition programs. 

Depending on the student, you can even teach them how to edit their own schedule when changes occur!

And each individual schedule can be unique. Some may be wordy and lengthy, while others are short, to the point, and have large text and/or pictorial images.

Some students may prefer to use a Digital Calendar, set alarms / timers, or use an app instead of paper format. 

Another option is a First / Then schedule. these work for students for whom a longer schedule may be overwhelming or too much information. Likely, EVERY person could benefit from a First / Then schedule at some point, whether frequently or infrequently.

For example, sometimes a student could use a First / Then schedule right before or after doing a task they don’t prefer as much. It can be motivating to see the order that tasks will occur in. 

Another time it could help is when a student is especially overwhelmed, dealing with sensory overload, or simply having a tougher time than usual. Seeing two things on a schedule instead of 10 can help! 

Like anything else in the classroom, it’s trial and error. And what works for you one year (or even day) may not work the next. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to to learn how to make your own visuals and schedules! I created a training resource you can grab here, just for this purpose. Click the button below to grab it!

If you have a student who reads in pictures, cannot see, or has further needs, there are a LOT of options out there for supports you can use to make schedules! There are apps, AAC, text-to-speech options, pictorial schedules . . . THE LIST GOES ON my friends. 

And if you’d like the free sample visual schedule I have in the picture above, you can click below to grab it by joining my email list!