I absolutely love this portable organizer that I bring with me from session to session. It works well for a variety of kids I see with special needs but it also is great for my kids at home. Many children are very visual learners so something like this can bring about great comfort to them, especially when they can see the order of events for the entire day.
This order of pictures is a routine and it's effective for kids who do not yet read or have already begun reading. Really, it's nice for anyone because we as humans can process the pictures more quickly than reading words. Words take conscious thought and skill and need more cognition/firing neurons to comprehend. We have to process what each letter stands for, what it sounds like, put all of the sounds together to make a word, and then process what the word means. I vote for pictures.
I put the first 5 on the front in a vertical column and anymore activities after that on the back which you can see below.
Why is routine important for kids? Routine gives young children a sense of control. They know what is coming next. This predictability gives them self-confidence. Self-confidence is a key element in becoming an independent human being (Cline and Fay, Parenting with Love and Logic, and Seligman, The Optimistic Child.)
If they do happen to see that a non-typical event is on the schedule, they can at least also see that the rest of their schedule will stay the same. This can lower any anxiety that some children might experience regularly. The children I see who have autism really like being able to see their session schedule and also like the tactile part of taking the pictures down when finished or turning them over.
The difference between a schedule and a routine- Routine does not have to be clock work. That is the difference between a schedule and a routine. A schedule is based on a clock. A routine is based on an order of events which falls in a similar time frame each day. More about this idea can be found in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.
Does having a routine mean that my children will not be flexible? No, it does not. If children are able to predict what is happening most of the time, then when the routine does change, they often find that it is a special event or a nice vacation from the normal, however it is comforting to know that they will still know what is happening the next day when it goes back to normal.
As mentioned before, if the children do happen to see that a non-typical event is on the schedule, they can at least also see that the rest of their schedule will stay the same.
It is important to communicate the change to your children ahead of time whether it is verbally and/or through a schedule such as this.
Back of the board- the ending part of a session routine.
An example of a morning routine in a home.
This pocket organizer happened to come from Lakeshore Learning.