Using visual schedules allows your child to see what is going to be happening in their day and the order of events. Visual schedules can be customized to meet the needs of each child. Getting started with a visual schedule can seem overwhelming, so this blog will help you recognize if your child would benefit from a visual schedule with ideas on how to get started.
7 Benefits of visual schedules:
Provides structure and predictability: Visual schedules prepare a child for what is coming up, which can reduce anxiety.
Eases transitions: Visual schedules are helpful in easing transitions from one activity to the next.
Reinforce verbal instructions: Most children process visual information better than auditory information. Words disappear after we say them and the visuals give language a lasting component.
Supports literacy development- Consistent exposure to written words can enforce reading of sight-words and provide an opportunity to practice reading through decoding.
Supports development of executive functioning: Visual schedules enforce planning, sequencing, completing tasks independently and the natural consequences of time management.
Supports conversation skills: Many childrenn have difficulty recalling and retelling previous events. Providing the visual framework of the schedule can help kids answer open-ended questions like: “What did you do today?” or “What was your favorite activity?”
Helps caregivers: Having a plan in place can be calming for adults. Creating a schedule helps the caregiver prepare for the day and use time effectively.
Decide on the format
Visual schedules come in all shapes and forms. When selecting a visual schedule format, consider which would be most functional for you to use, along with what would be most beneficial for your child. Some schedule forms take more preparation while schedules like line drawn images or written words can be done quickly and on the fly.
Here are some different types of visual schedules:
Apps on phone/tablet Tangible pictures with Velcro Line drawing images Written words
Decide on the length The length of the schedule will be based on your son or daughter’s needs and abilities. Some children may be able to use a whole day schedule while others will be overwhelmed by this amount of information and will need to see just one or two items at a time.
First/Then-This can be an effective format to introduce visual schedules without overwhelming the child with too much information. It can assist a child in getting through the non-preferred first activity by seeing that next, she will get a preferred choice.
It is beneficial to include your child as part of the process of creating the schedule. The slowed down, one step at a time, verbal explanations paired with visuals helps the child understand and prepare for upcoming activities. It can also be a nice opportunity for the child to have some autonomy and make choices about what their day will look like. Don’t feel that making a schedule means that you have to rigidly follow it. Life is unpredictable and having a change in plans is something that we all have to adapt to. The visual schedule can be a great tool to teach your kids about flexibility.
Oh the weather outside is frightful, and we are going crazy indoors. Just because there is snow and ice on the ground, does not mean your child’s arousal level is any lower. On the contrary, it’s probably reaching a boiling point and you are looking for ways to get your kids the sensory stimulation and gross motor activity their little bodies are craving.
Getting your kids up and moving has a lot of benefits. The Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days of the week, preferably daily. As an occupational therapist, I love physical activity because of the regulating aspects of proprioceptive input*, as well as development of coordination skills and strengthening opportunities.
*Proprioceptive inputare sensations from joints, muscles and connective tissues that underlie body awareness. Input can be obtained by lifting, pushing, and pulling heavy objects, including one’s own weight. For example, climbing on a jungle gym, swinging across monkey bars, or pulling a wagon.
Why is it helpful? Providing your child with more proprioceptive input throughout the day can help them:
Tolerate sensations and situations that are challenging
Regulate emotions, alertness and increase attention span
Reduce unwanted sensory seeking and sensory avoiding behaviors
In these bitter winter months, it is difficult to get your kids the physical
activity they need. Here are just a few ideas for indoor activities to give you and your family a much-needed break from being stuck at home.
Children are our most valuable investment. Ensure that your child is aware of all the safety tips and rules this Halloween. Drive carefully as some children may dart into the street and may not be easily visible due to dark costumes. Please take the time to review the following safety rules with your child.
Make sure young children are accompanied by an adult or responsible teenager when they go door-to-door.
If children are going to be out after dark, me sure they carry a flashlight.
Walk, slither, and sneak on sidewalks, not in the street! If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.
Instruct children never to eat anything until they are home and the treats have been carefully examined. Throw away anything unwrapped. Check the wrapper of commercial treats for evidence of tampering.
Leave your porch light on so children will know it’s okay to visit your home.
Decorate costumes and treat bags with reflective tape for easier night visibility.
Be cautious of animals and strangers.
Use face paint rather than masks or things that will cover your eyes.
Accept your treats at the door and never go into a stranger’s house.
Plan a route on well lit streets and share it with your family.
Don’t hide or cross the street between cars.
Cross the street only at corner.
Have a safe and fun filled Halloween!!!
For other fun resources, check out the Power Ranger Megaforce Halloween Safety video!
Pop quiz! Which of these would you like your child to improve on?
How to make healthy food choices.
How to cooperate well with others and engage in teamwork.
How to increase their confidence and self-awareness.
How to interact and connect with the natural world.
If you agree with one or any of these statements, your child would be a great gardener.
Gardening has been around for so long that people may not realize the positive effects it can have on our children and us. With more processed and highly sugared foods hitting the table, we are further away from where our food comes from than ever before.
Everyone agrees that eating healthy is good. It makes you feel better, gets you a good doctor’s report and prevents disease. But it can be really hard sometimes. After working all day and picking up the kids from school, going to soccer practice, therapy and homework; taking a swing threw the drive-thru seems like the only option available. But this option is causing a worldwide epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease not only in us but also in our children.
So what can we do to turn that around?
We can start by establishing healthy eating habits young. These habits will last a lifetime.
Gardening is a great way to incorporate real fruits and vegetables into your home. It provides a learning opportunity for children to see where their food comes from. School or community gardens also offer an opportunity to interact with a group to practice socialization and teamwork. Once youth are involved in the growing process, they gain a sense of pride and ownership of what they created. This makes them more willing to try new foods and share. Often school can be an overload of sensory input. The garden provides a relaxing environment for everybody. Children can explore their senses by smelling flowers and hearing the sounds of nature around them.
How do I get started?
Gardeners are great sharers! Ask friends, family and even us here at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley. Somebody usually has an extra plant or two to spare or a packet of seeds to share. If you can’t find any, your local nursery can help or you can order seeds online at Rare Seeds.
Dedicate an area of your yard to be the garden. If you don’t have a plot of land to dedicate to a whole garden, that is okay too. Containers work well and can grow plants such as tomatoes and peppers.
Make it easy on yourself. If you have never gardened before, it is as simple as putting a seed into the dirt, giving it sunlight and water and watching it grow.
Come by and check out our very own school garden grown by the kids in the Lily Garden Child Care Center at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley in Villa Park.
By: Vickie Robinson, Developmental Therapist & Kelly Lopresti
We truly feel an inclusive childcare environment is a wonderful experience for all Involved! With the recent 30th Anniversary of the Lily Garden Child Development Center here at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, we wanted to discuss all the benefits of an inclusive child care program and outline some ways to support children with special needs in your classroom. Children with special needs and typically developing peers benefit from an inclusive environment as well as teachers and family members.
12 Benefits of Inclusion for Students with Special Needs
Friendships with same aged peers
Increased social initiations, relationships, friendships and networks
Peer role models for social, academic and behavior skills
Increased achievement of therapy and Individual Family Service Plan/Individualized Education Program goals (IFSP/IEP)
Greater access to general curriculum
Enhanced skill acquisition and generalization
Increased staff, parent and therapist collaboration
Increased parent and teacher participation
Families are more integrated into community
Affords a sense of belonging
Provides a stimulating environment for growth
12 Benefits of Inclusion for Typically Developing Students
Meaningful friendships are cultivated
Increased understanding and acceptance of diversity
Develops respect for others with diverse characteristics
Increases abilities to help others
Prepares all students for adult life in an inclusive society
Opportunities to master activities by practicing and teaching others
Greater academic outcomes
Develops capacity for empathy
All student’s needs are better met, greater resources for everyone
Develops sensitivity toward others’ limitations
Develops feelings of empowerment and the ability to make a difference
Using pictures or objects to signal next activities
Making physical boundaries to decrease distraction
Engineer classroom to support children of all abilities
Lower hooks, make paths for children in wheel chairs
Adapt materials. Examples include:
Adding knobs to wooden puzzles
Offer a variety of scissor, pen, marker, crayon options
Use a tilt board or easel for easier viewing
Simplify complicated tasks by breaking them into smaller parts. For example, give child materials for a task one piece at a time.
Be Aware of Child Preferences
Use motivating subjects, toys and games to promote learning, participation and interaction
Use of Special Equipment
Use adaptive devices to maximize and facilitate participation. Making sure child care staff are trained by parents and therapists to properly use adaptive or medical equipment.
Make sure children who need physical support are positioned optimally and are encouraged to play on the same level as peers.
Make sure staff is trained and comfortable in working with all children in their classroom. Having permission to interact and learn from a child’s therapist is important. Knowing a child’s goals and beneficial supports will benefit the child.
Use classmates as models to help children learn.
Teach children specific ways to engage and interact with a child with special needs.
Invisible Support- Arrange naturally occurring events to assist in inclusion.
Assign roles during children’s play, such as having a child with limited mobility be in charge of “pumping gas” as the children riding bikes go by.
Comment on children’s play in ways that encourage further interaction.