When virtual schooling gave way to in-person learning last year, I underestimated the stress of having to get Grace ready and to school on time each day. Many mornings ended in tears. Sometimes she cried, too. I realized that while some of her stress and resulting behaviors stemmed from separating from me, much of it came from pervasive themes that we’ve noticed impact Grace’s behavior in all aspects of life: her desire for independence, reliance on predictability/routine, and preference for prompting before transitions. Sound like anyone you know?
In response, I developed a simple visual schedule for morning routines based on a chore chart I’d found on Pinterest. Though we inevitably still had some fussy mornings, the visual schedule worked well for both of our children to:
- Provide choices to promote independence and reduce refusals
- Promote a sense of accomplishment (they love closing those little doors!)
- Reinforce learning of the routine
- Encourage reading
- Appeal to the visual learning strengths common in people with Down syndrome
Best of all, it shifted much of the morning’s mental load from me to the children. Instead of running through the list of “to-do’s” myself, I send them to their schedules to choose their next task.
Our no-frills visual schedule was quick and simple to make using:
- Adhesive Magnets or Velcro
- Free clipart print outs, like these [go to “File” -> “Make a Copy”]
- Marker or pre-printed word labels
- Fold your cardstock in half lengthwise -that’s hot-dog-style if you’re spatially challenged, like me.
- Open the page and draw lines to separate sections of roughly equal width on the inside. Use a ruler or free-hand it if you live on the wild side.
- Cut along those lines on one side of the cardstock, stopping at the fold.
- Add pictures, labels, and magnets.
- Dream of a morning when you actually get to enjoy some of your coffee while it’s still hot. (Fingers crossed!)
The girls liked them so much, we made one for bedtime, too. You could also design one as a chore chart or to reinforce routines in the bathroom, dressing, or packing a backpack, among other things. Comment below with other ways you plan to use visual schedules.
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