How Visual Timetables Support Primary Education For Young Children

How Visual Timetables Support Primary Education For Young Children


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If you are involved in the education of young children, you will in all likelihood encounter a wide variety of capabilities and differing degrees of comprehension among the various children. If you are dealing with any particular specific learning difficulties then you will encounter an even greater selection of challenges in your attempts to ensure […]




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If you are involved in the education of young children, you will in all likelihood encounter a wide variety of capabilities and differing degrees of comprehension among the various children. If you are dealing with any particular specific learning difficulties then you will encounter an even greater selection of challenges in your attempts to ensure that the children are all up to speed with the schedule for the school week. If your class should be taken on any give day by a stand-in teacher then they will need to rapidly understand your planned schedule so that the class can continue following the correct program of work for the amount of time involved. To help children and staff alike understand what they are meant to be doing and when, the visual timetable is a valuable tool among primary teaching resources in helping to bring harmony to an already hectic environment.

Pupils will find that visual timetables help them to understand what they are doing and when over a period of time such as the scholastic day. They give structure to the day and often help with reducing agitation. Symbols or photos are used to represent the tasks, activities or lessons and the significance of their graphical representations are explained to the pupil. The visual timetable is then exhibited to give a visual reference for what is happening across the period of time in question.

Often a visual timetable will show the word of the activity alongside a graphical representation of the activity. For a younger child it could be used only for afternoon or morning activities. For an older pupil it could be a graphical timetable for the week. Visual timetables are adapted and used according to the particular needs of the children in question.

A visual timetable is simple to make using symbols or photos and is a valuable tool in the classroom, helping to give pupils some structure to their day. There are many benefits to using visual timetables as an aid to classroom management. They promote autonomy, reduce anxiety, increase confidence and build on a pupil’s strength as a visible learner. They also build upon a pupil’s need for routine, predictability and organisation. It will also help to instil a feeling of permanency.

Many children on the autistic spectrum can struggle with the complexities of the school day and their early years resources will benefit from being planned accordingly. They often prefer to have fixed routines as the world can appear quite unpredictable to them. It is tough for them to take change in their stride so it’s better to give an advanced warning to prevent stress or a sense of loss of control. Visual timetables may be used to break an activity down into steps giving children a sense of structure to their day and making them feel secure. Visual timetables provide prompts to help children know what area of the curriculum they’ll be studying, what they’ll need to get their work done and what the social organisation of the class will be. This will reduce anxiety with the final result that children often exhibit less anti-social, undesirable behaviour.

Visual timetables can be used for the entire class or reserved for individual children. If they are to be used for the entire class they have to be displayed in a location where they can be seen easily by everybody. If a visual timetable is employed for an individual child then a smaller version can be created. The teacher and any classroom helpers will need to refer to it in the school day till the children are totally familiar with it. The timetable should be designed either from left to right or from top to bottom.

Some children will benefit by being consulted regarding the actual symbols or graphical representations to be used. The child will take greater ownership of the timetable and it’ll mean more to them as an organisational tool. Some children may require individualised visual timetables because they could be taking part in different activities to the rest of the class. A personal timetable specific to particular children may include individual speech therapy, physiotherapy or medical needs that might not be relevant for the remainder of the class.

Visual timetables can be useful to help control behaviour patterns. The timetable will indicate when a break occurs so this could be helpful for a child on a behaviour intervention plan. He or she will know when a break is due and how much longer they have to be moderating their conduct before a reward or break will be permitted.

Visual timetables could be a very helpful classroom management and organisational tool for the teacher in that if a supply or stand in teacher has to take charge of the class, they can immediately see the composition of the school day. Teachers employing a visual timetable will find that their children become less dependent on teaching staff and oral instructions and the class will often benefit from a reduction in troublesome behaviour and repetitive questions. A visual timetable can thus be of significant advantage for any school room.

It will of course be a challenge to fit the teaching resources employed on a day-to-day basis with every child’s personal needs. This requirement is one that each and every teacher faces and will continue to face, with each passing year, as new children come forward to learn their early years skills. The forward-thinking teacher will have at their disposal a wide collection of primary teaching resources which will be selected with the aim of fitting the needs of the widest variety of individual needs so that the young children of each and every year can go forward to the next stage of their learning, enlightened and better capable to face the challenges ahead.

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