Remember being in high school, and the *excitement* of receiving a timetable? That might just have been me, but there was something so empowering about finally knowing what was happening each day (and a bit of relief, too!). Not the most easy-to-understand piece of paper, by any means – but it marked this kind of rite of passage entering high school, that you were *finally* entrusted with knowing what you’d be doing ahead of time.
Want to know what I think? I think early years kids are more than capable of using a timetable – in fact, especially for any students with ASD or on the spectrum, it might actually help them thrive!
Visual timetables are a great resource that encourages a lot of key skills, and is wayyyyy more engaging than those straight-outta-Excel timetables (that goes for both your students and you!)
If you haven’t really heard of a visual timetable before stumbling across this blog, then I’ve got you, friend! Keep reading and I’ll explain a little more about why you might want to use one.
Visual timetables are… exactly what they sound like!
Visual timetables are just that – a visual representation of your schedule for the day. They’re a lot easier to process than written information, making them great for early years kids, and mean that all your little learners are on the same page when it comes to your routine!
Laid out either horizontally or vertically (depending on the space you’ve got available), a visual timetable runs the different times of the day along the top or side, and has the corresponding activity you’ll be doing next to it. It’s as simple as that!
For older kids, you might choose to use an analogue clock face to help them grasp their knowledge of time; otherwise digital is totally fine, too!
Who benefits from visual timetables?
Research suggests that all kids can benefit from the development of a routine and the teaching opportunities that come with a visual timetable!
It can improve children’s understanding of:
- Memory: get your students to help you reset the timetable at the end of each day, challenging them to remember which activity falls where in the schedule
- Independence: with the timetable up on the wall and available to refer to at any time, students don’t need to rely on you to give them that information all the time. This promotes self-reliance which will be such a great skill as they move into higher grades
- Literacy: for younger kids, using a visual representation of your common activities can help to develop a stronger grasp of their vocab and strengthen links between words and pictures
- Organisation: kids can make sure they’re prepared for what’s coming next, understanding where they’re at in the day and what they should be working on
- Resilience: when unexpected events or changes happen, you can communicate about these ahead of time and show the students what those changes mean for their schedule. This might help to reduce anxiety and get students more comfortable to deal with change
Kids with ASD or communication delays might find it more challenging to process what you’re saying in real time, so visual aides can really help them to absorb anything you communicate verbally. Plus, it’s always there for them to go back to when they need it; which can be a huge relief to students who really rely on routine for that sense of stability in their day to day.
Different styles of visual timetables
I hope you’re feeling inspired to start using a visual timetable in your classroom! Even if you help just one student to feel more comfortable and confident in the time they spend with you, I think that in itself makes it *so* worthwhile. And honestly, I think just about every kid in your class will benefit from it in some way!
Here are a few of my favorite visual timetable templates that you might be interested in:
For early years kids:
The emphasis of this design is really on the graphics, making it a perfect way to introduce younger students to the idea of a visual timetable!
For elementary/primary years:
This design is really customizable and can be changed depending on the year you’re teaching or your kids’ learning style.
Choose from analogue or digital clock faces, and with or without graphics – a great choice for those kids starting to get a bit more confident
For older students:
This is a more subtle design that doesn’t have the graphics of each activity. The analogue clock faces make this a good choice for older students who like to know what’s on for the day, but don’t need the extra reinforcement for their literacy or time-telling.