A visual weekly schedule for children who have special needs
We have often stressed the importance of working with parents for the well-being of the children you care for. This is just as true in good times and in more difficult times. Parents are their child's main caregivers. For this reason, as early childhood educators, you must do everything you can to build a healthy relationship with them. When working with children who have special needs, this collaboration is even more important to, among other things, reassure them, find solutions, and celebrate successes and improvements.
In this article, I would like to present a tool that I have regularly used with parents to illustrate their child's weekly schedule. Some children have a greater need to be reassured, to know where they will be spending each day...and who will care for them. Some parents use this tool to make transitioning from their child's home to daycare environment easier. Children need adults to help them situate themselves in time. The words "today", "yesterday", and "tomorrow" mean absolutely nothing to them. They need benchmarks or reference points to feel safe, to know what awaits them. Children who feel safe will function much better.
This calendar representing a child's weekly schedule is designed to be used with parents. You can give each child's parents a copy to guarantee continuity in terms of interventions, yours and those of the parents. It is easy to use and makes illustrating where (daycare, home, outing) a child will spend each day possible. For some children, you may choose to add a picture of the person (mother, father, grandparents, etc.) who will come get them at the end of the day.
Here is how to use the calendar.
- Open and print the document (Open weekly schedule).
- Laminate and stick Velcro pieces on the illustrations and on the calendar.
- At the beginning of the week, complete the child's schedule by associating the appropriate pictogram (daycare, home, outing) with each day.
- If necessary, each morning add a picture of the person (mother, father, grandparents) who will be coming to get the child at the end of the day.
- At the end of each day, remove the pictograms or pictures and take a few minutes to observe with the child where he/she will be the next day.
If parents use the same calendar at home, you will see results. Encourage parents who spend a lot of time "negotiating" with their child every morning because their child doesn't want to come to daycare to use the calendar. Since I have personally used the calendar on many occasions, I can say that children really appreciate it and it helps limit tantrums.
Maude Dubé, Specialized educator