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Speech and Language in the Classroom

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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Visual Timetable Top Tips

A visual timetable is a plan of the day in pictures or symbols. It represents the routine of the day, in the order in which it will happen. Visual timetables are a part of many primary school classrooms, as they are great for supporting understanding of the routine of the school day for the whole class. But are you making the best use of your visual timetable? Here are some top visual timetable tips!

1. Your visual timetable should be placed on a wall at the child’s eye level. It is important that the children have access to the timetable, and can refer to it when they need to.

2. Make sure your visual timetable is accessible, so don’t put it on the wall behind a desk or cupboards.

3. Go through your visual timetable at the start of every day, making it clear if there are any changes to routine that day.

4. Be prepared for a change in routine: if you are doing something different today, make sure you have a symbol to represent it. This can be as simple as a line drawing, or ask one of your pupils to draw one for you. Or keep a question mark symbol handy for unknown or undecided events!

5. Refer to your visual timetable throughout the day. Before you start an activity, and when the activity is finished.

6. When an activity is finished, ask a child to take that symbol off the timetable and put it in a ‘finished’ box. This way everyone can see at what point along the timetable we are.

7. Ensure your pupils are part of the process. Involve them in making your visual timetable at the start of the year (cutting, sticking, drawing). (You can always replace these later on, but this is a good way of introducing the symbols to the whole class).

8. Where possible involve the child in selecting the symbols and putting them on the timetable. This gives you the chance to explain and discuss expectations as you go along. The child should be able to see clearly the breaks and rewards.

9. Your visual timetable can be used to practice the language of sequencing. For example, First we have maths. Next we will do reading. Last it’s home time.

10. Visual timetables are meant to be simple. Stick to key points. It is better to use a shorter timetable that does not cover everything rather than one crammed full of information.

11. The best timetables are those that the child can use to develop some measure of independence. They should be able to see for themselves what they need to do.

Sarah Wall, Speech and Language Therapist

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