“Help! My room is chaos and I don’t know what to do!”
This is a common concern in KidMin. One tool that I’ve used to help manage my own classroom during my years as an early childhood educator in public schools is called a visual schedule. I’m so excited that Lifeway’s Bible Studies for Life will be offering a way to easily create this tool to use in church KidMin classes starting in the Fall of 2016! However, you can go ahead and download these great visual schedules today and begin using them in your classroom: 3s–Pre-K, Kindergarten, Grades 1-6, and Special Buddies.
What is a Visual Schedule?
A visual schedule:
- Is a way to specify the order of planned activities,
- Indicates when activities are finished, and
- Identifies any changes from the regular schedule
A visual schedule used in the way described below functions like an illustrated “agenda.”
How is a Visual Schedule Used?
A visual schedule can be used in a variety of ways. At church, one way to implement a visual schedule is to:
- Decide on your classroom routine.
- Choose words, pictorial representations, or simple photographs of each activity included in your routine.
- Display the schedule.
- Teach children how to use it.
- Assess and adjust the visual schedule.
A visual schedule does nothing if hung up in the classroom and never talked about again.
Who Benefits from a Visual Schedule at Church?
While visual schedules are often used with children with autism or young children with language delays, visual schedules can benefit everyone! For example, use a visual schedule:
- With an entire preschool class to help children understand, anticipate, and follow the expected classroom routines.
- With a child with low language skills, by providing a menu of acceptable choices during free play. For example, show the child pictures of the block area and housekeeping area and ask the child to point to the area in which she would like to play.
- With a child that has difficulty with transitions, provide an individual schedule so that the child can see the day’s activities, pull the completed activity off the schedule, and anticipate the next event.
Effective use of a visual schedule can facilitate a more positive atmosphere so that teachers can concentrate on building relationships and instilling Truth.
Children thrive when they know what is expected of them and when they have consistent routines. Most of us use visual supports to help us through our day— watches, calendars, to-do lists, agendas, etc.—so why not provide the same support to children?
References: Meadan, H., Ostrosky, M.M., Triplett, B., Michna, A., & Fettig, A. (2011). Using visual supports with young children with autism spectrum disorder. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43(6), 28-35.
Dr. Tracy McElhattan serves as Director of Preschool Ministries at Blue Valley Baptist Church in Overland Park, KS. Tracy also writes and edits Bible Studies for Life curriculum for Kids. Previously, she has worked in public education in various roles for 13 years, including teaching and research. Tracy’s passions include teacher training, inclusive education, leadership development, good conversations, and enjoying life with her husband raising their two young boys.