Teaching the Schedule

Daily schedules help children to feel secure by making their environment more predictable.  It allows children to feel more confident about what to expect, so they can follow directions and gain cooperation skills.  The schedule also helps create a sense of belonging to a group. Read more about routines and transitions on NAEYC.

Now that you’ve created a developmentally appropriate schedule it’s time to introduce it to the children and teach the schedule. Both the schedule and routines are important and must be directly taught. Teaching children expectations during daily routines will support all children and help them be successful. It can also minimize disruptions for smoother days and more engaged children.

How to Teach the Schedule

Follow these steps to teach children how to use a visual picture schedule.

Introduce the cards

Introduce the picture cards at large group time. Hold them up and see if the children can “read” them what the pictures on the card dictate. 

Show where they will be displayed

Explain where the cards will be displayed so the children can see them and look for themselves. Be sure they are placed at a level children can easily see them, not too high on the wall.

Start small

Start with the morning or afternoon routine, as appropriate for your class. Focus on each routine as it comes up, purposefully talking about the activity it is time for.

Remind what’s first/next

Using simple language like “first, then next” helps children focus on and process what you’re saying.

Explicitly teach and review routines.

Walk children through the routine. When it’s clean-up time:

  1. Make an announcement 5 minutes beforehand. Set a timer if desired. 
  2. After 5 minutes, say “it’s clean-up time, then we’ll (next routine)”. 
  3. Turn on the clean-up song or choose a song stick to sing a song while you work. 
  4. Help children clean up and guide the routine. You may need to request children do specific jobs.
  5. After clean-up is done, use another song to transition to outdoor time or transition one child to another activity at a time. Example: When a child has cleaned up their toys and space, they can participate in a small transition activity, like putting a sticker on a chart before putting on their outdoor gear.

Practice routines.

Take time to practice the routines each day to help children learn the process. Soon children will remind each other what the routine is! They like to know and be in control and they like to please so help them learn how.

Offer positive feedback.

Look for and notice the good! Narrating positive actions you see, while naming the child provides positive reinforcement for everyone.

Download Visual Schedule Cards

Create your own visual schedule with these daily routine schedule cards and start using your picture schedule today!

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