Pictures to help with scheduling

Published by Sara Chigani on: Feb 04, 2020 — Behavior Ideas & Modifications, General MT Tools & Info

Life can be so hectic sometimes that, at some point, we will forget what we had previously planned to do throughout the day. Activities get added or removed from the list, we need to do certain things before other things can get done, or sometimes we plan time for a break because our day is just too hectic. Having a schedule can definitely help us adults out. Now just think of how beneficial a schedule might be for a kiddo. A schedule is a great way to keep kiddos (and adults) on track. However, writing out a long list of activities for little kiddos might not work the best so, in music therapy we sometimes use what’s called a “visual schedule”. A visual schedule is great because it doesn’t use words, primarily, it uses pictures. So, we can even use visual schedules with kiddos that have yet to learn how to read. A visual schedule simply contains the number of activities to be done in the session and a picture of what the activity is, next to the number. Although, there are many different ways to layout a visual schedule, so you can truly make it how you want it.

Just like in everyday life, when we don’t write things down, we tend to forget them, which can also happen in a music therapy session. Not only does having a visual schedule help us, music therapists, with what’s next, it also creates a snapshot for the client of what is to come in the session. When the kiddo is able to see the activities, he/she knows what to expect. I typically laminate the schedule then adhere pictures of the activities to the laminated sheet. For example, if I’m doing an intervention involving egg shakers, I will print off a small picture of egg shakers. If I need to change an activity, I can easily pull it off and replace it with something else.

Not only does having a visual schedule help with expectations, but it holds the music therapist and client to the predetermined activities and keeps everyone on track. When the kiddo is able to see the sequence of activities, he/she knows that he/she has to finish one activity first to get to the next, and so on, there’s no skipping. This can also help kiddos with patience and motivation. If the kiddo sees an activity posted at the end he/she really wants to do, the kiddo is now motivated to go through the previous activities first. As you can see, visual schedules can be a really great resource for not only clients, but music therapists as well.

For anyone looking to use a visual schedule, I created 2 different versions that you can use. Visual schedule “A” contains 2 extra spots for a break, where it says “if finished...”. Sometimes in my sessions a kiddo needs an extra boost of motivation with a break or reward where he/she can regroup and prepare for the rest of the session to come. Visual schedule “B” is a great one to use if you don’t need a break or reward point within the session. I also included just a few pictures of activities to start off with your schedule. However, feel free to tailor them to you and your client’s needs! Happy scheduling!

Sara Chigani, MA, MT-BC

Illustration of Today's schedule - Option A
Visual Schedule (A)
Illustration of Today's schedule - Option B
Visual Schedule (B)
Illustration of various activities including egg shakers, xylophone and a "Surprise Box"
Visual Schedule Intervention Pictures


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