Just because you are teaching virtually doesn’t mean your students don’t need a schedule to follow. They definitely do.
And visual schedules are a great way, even during virtual learning, to help students prepare for their day.
Welcome to the SPED Connection, a collection of tips and tricks from other special educators all over the world. Because we’re all in this together!
Today’s tips come from Heather, who is currently a middle school functional life skills teacher and the author behind Full SPED Ahead.
From Heather: “This school year I have signed up to teach virtually all year long. I’ve taught life skills for 7 years and it is my heart and soul! I love encouraging students to reach their full potential and gain overall independence as they work with me!”
“Another thing I am passionate about is: VISUALS!! We all need visuals in our day. From our Apple watches to tell us to stand, a calendar to remind us of your friend’s birthday, or your Google Calendar invites to tell you when you need to be in meetings. We all have visuals that help keep us on track.”
You can find her on Instagram here.
Since school closures in March, I’ve really made sure my students have access to their visual schedules. They may look different for home life, but they have a daily schedule to follow.
You can read more about visual schedules here.
When schools closed, I had several parents ask for a schedule to use at home to help provide structure, routine and normalcy in their day.
I used the Home Visual Schedule, I created visual schedules for various home activities such as:
• Morning routine
• Lunch time
• Dinner time
• Bedtime routine
• Academic times
• Leisure time
Now that I am teaching remotely this school year, I am doing the exact same thing.
My families have access to printable copies of their child’s daily schedule as well as schedules for each subject area. This allows for families to take the schedule with them if their child sat on the floor, at the dining room table or in their bed.
Many students have a hard time staying in one place near a computer so the paper option helps bring the child back to their schedule with the virtual group.
In addition to students having a printable visual schedule, I, as the teacher, have a copy too. Before each activity starts, I review our schedule so that the students know what to expect. As the lesson goes on, I review what we have accomplished and what we still need to do before the end.
I know some people do not have access to printers and are unable to send materials home. You can always create a digital schedule checklist for each subject and review each schedule before class starts.
See a how to video for creating a digital visual schedule here.
Make sure you check the schedule throughout the class so that students know what activity is coming next and when they’ll be able to access their break or reward.
If you want to step up your visual schedule game, try sending home a task analysis for a daily chore or a daily living skill, such as brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
I also have adapted books available for families to access and work on functional and daily living skills while at home! Many of these chores help provide a structure to the students day, just like a visual schedule does.
How are you providing visual schedules to your students during distance learning? Share in the comments below!