What is a visual schedule? visual schedule 2

A visual schedule is a visual representation of upcoming tasks or events.  The schedule may show part of the day or the whole day.  It may vary in size and format using pictures only, words only, or a combination of both – tailored for individual student needs.

Why do we use visual schedules?

Visual Schedules provide structure and predictability in the classroom and have been shown to decrease anxiety and related challenging behaviours.

How do I use a visual schedule?

Upon arrival, review the schedule with the student.  This can be done by pointing to each activity and verbally stating the activities, in order.  Prompt the student to point to the pictures along with you.  After each activity is completed, refer to the schedule, for example, “Math is all finished, it’s time for recess.”  If using a student-specific schedule, gradually work toward the student manipulating the schedule themselves, by removing finished activities and placing them in a “finished” folder or basket.

A more detailed sequence for teaching use may look like this:

  1. Give a standard phrase (e.g., “Check schedule”)
  2. Prompt the student (from behind) to go to the schedule
  3. Prompt the student to look at or point to the first activity
  4. Prompt the student to go to the location of the first activity
  5. When the activity is over, give the standard phrase again and prompt the student back to the schedule

PRAISE the student for using the schedule.

*The schedule will require teaching; it will not automatically have meaning.

*Use enough prompting to ensure the child gets there, but fade out slowly so s/he goes to the schedule with increasing independence. 

Another way for the student to interact with their schedule is to check activities off as they are completed.  This type of  schedule is great for more advanced students who are learning self-management skills.


Click on the picture for your own printable First-Then schedule.


Any type of schedule can also be used in a first/then format.  By placing pictures/objects of less preferred activities under the “First” column and more preferred activities under the “Then” column, it can provide the motivation necessary to get through less desirable tasks (see Motivation).



How do I create a visual schedule?

Work as a team to assess the student’s ability to follow the current format of the schedule in the classroom with minimal prompting.  Think about what is presently used in the classroom to inform the students of the daily schedule.

For individual schedules, consider the following factors for each student:

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.02.44 PM1. Comprehension Level (schedule location – stationary or portable; schedule manipulation – pull off or check mark)

2. Attention Span

3.  Sequencing Abilities (schedule length – two/three/four items, half day, full day)


For class-wide schedules, consider the following:

1.  Does this type of schedule support the needs of all students?

2.  Do any changes need to be made to make the practice more inclusive?

3.  Can minimal adjustments be made to the current daily schedule so that all students can participate (e.g., add picture symbols next to the words or break the day down into chucks)?

4.  If minimal adjustments are not enough, or if a portable schedule is required, develop a student-specific visual schedule to replace or supplement the class format.

Types of Schedules

Click on each picture to view a video of how each of these schedules are used.

Object Schedulesobject schedule

Picture Schedules

visual schedule

General Pic Schedule


Weekly Schedule

Written Schedules

word schedule

General Written Schedules

Classroom Schedules

classroom visual schedule.jpg General Classroom Schedule



 Timetable Schedules


Secondary Timetable

Elementary Timetable

Mini-Schedulesbowling mini-schedule Entry/Exit mini-schedules

NEW Covid entry schedule