Robin C.’s schedule-teaching hack is amazing. I have plenty to say about this, but will save it for the end.
I wanted to teach my 1 1/2 year old his schedule and to be able to discuss changes to the schedule or special events he can then anticipate. I also wanted to get him started thinking about time concepts of ‘now’ and ‘later’. I know from my teaching experience that a rudimentary calendar is helpful, but I wanted to make it in a format he could use.
I know people have done this with lists or magnets on the refrigerator, but my boy loves to pull all the magnets off the fridge and paper is something to be drawn on or crumpled. My son is really getting into books, so I decided to make his calendar in a book format, but I needed it to be both sturdy and be able to rearrange the pages easily. Things like ‘brush teeth’ are daily, but his play-gym class is once a week and we often try to take him to special activities on the weekend like swimming or a play-date.
I realized that an easy way to do this would be to use a cheap ($1.99) 4×6 photo album. The one I got has space for 36 photos and a slot on the front for a cover photo, but I also saw some cute ones with popular Disney characters on the cover. I print out each task/activity (and accompanying photo of him engaged in the task or a photo of the person we would be visiting) on a 4×6 piece of paper or photo paper, or even just trim standard paper to fit after printing. This way I can only put in the ‘pages’ that we need to discuss for that day. Extra activities can then be stored in the excess pages, but turned around so the words and pictures don’t show.
I think that when he gets older this could even become a fun storytelling activity if I print out pages with sections of popular fairy tales (beginning, middle, and end). I could then let him pick the pages (mix and match) which we then put in the book and read the book together.
This hack would work for older kids as well. Most kids benefit from visual prompts (as opposed to keeping the schedule “in their heads”), but this is especially true for those with attention and learning bugs. A visual schedule helps kids feel in control of their day by helping them visualize it before it happens.
As the school year ends and many kids head into the more unstructured days of summer, a prop like this helps maintain some light order to their days and weeks.