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Why you'll love a visual timetable!

Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim

The little 4 year old is working well on putting the right pictures into a story, but suddenly has had enough. She leaps up and makes for the toy cars in the corner!

However, she comes back when reminded to look at her bright, friendly, visual timetable. Each of the actions she has to do today is stuck on in the order she'll do them. She can see that the cars come after this task.

Upon seeing this, she returns to finish her story puzzle and then runs back to her visual timetable, takes off the 'story puzzle' picture, and moves it into the 'done' folder. She looks at the next item on her list and smiles: now she can play with her cars!

So what is a 'Visual Timetable'?

A visual timetable is a series of detachable pictures or symbols showing what is to be done and in what order.

—Such a timetable can be used to show a variety of tasks that need doing. You could have:

  • —A week’s timetable: key activities each day

  • —A day’s activities in school or at home—

  • Items to complete in a lesson or learning / therapy time—

  • Steps for a process, or for learning a new skill - such as:

  • putting your shoes on,

  • brushing your teeth, riding your bike

  • preparing for school,

  • getting up or going to bed

They can be used at home or at school, or to prepare for going out to a new place or activity.

People who find visual timetables helpful:


Visual timetables make it easy for a teacher to keep everyone on track, as everyone is able to see clearly and be involved in the whole day’s or week’s activities.

They give a clear transition point from one activity to another.


Visual timetables help mums at home in all sorts of way. They are useful, especially for those who home-school or are teaching their child a new skill. I have found them as helpful for me as a Mum as it is for the children! It is on a par with making 'to-do' lists!


Visual timetables are great for children who:

  • —find it hard to focus or keep attention.

  • —need visual cues to help their weaker speech, language and/or memory

  • —are anxious: they give structure and reassurance

  • find it hard to complete tasks.

An individual child's timetable can show a part of the whole day, reflecting parts of the whole class timetable, for children who do not focus for longer periods.

Benefits of Visual Timetables

Showing the order of activities in a day / week / session helps the child - and you - to —do things in a certain order until they become routine.

  • —They help keep attention focused on current task

  • They help develop independence - help the child to take responsibility for transition to the next step

  • They help keep motivation to the end – there can be a reward for finishing - an activity they enjoy

I'm not very creative - how do I make a visual timetable?

Creativity is an optional extra!

You just need to find pictures or take photos of the series of things you want to use the timetable for.

Then print them off, and preferably laminate them, otherwise you will be making more pictures again in about a week.

Then there are several ways of sticking them or pegging them to a board or string, either vertically or horizontally.

There are lots of wonderful Freebies online, or at minimal cost .Google 'Visual Timetables'!

Mix ‘n ‘match, or with your own photos as required.

So how do you use the Timetables?


Decide how many activities / pictures to include: 4 or 5 are enough for a child with poor attention:

  1. Involve the child in choosing, as long as the choice includes things he needs to do as well as the fun things

  2. —Decide the order: put things the child likes to do/are easier at the end, or between harder tasks.

  3. When the task is finished, —let the child take the picture off and put it in the 'Finished' box

Visuals are good for other things too!

They really help children:

  • —know what is NOT acceptable to do

  • — tell you something when their speech that is hard to understand

  • say what they are feeling when they don’t have the words

I do hope this introduction to visual timetables will inspire you to try them out.

They really do work, and may transform the way your child can focus on what is important.

Go on - have fun making yours! and let me know how it goes.

Warmly yours,

Margi Kulsoom


Great links for finding visual timetables:

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Image credits:

Image 1: Copyright Author

Image 2:

Image 3:

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