Why should you be using a visual timetable in your classroom, and how do you use one? Plus, keep reading to find out how The Hive's editable daily schedule template will benefit your students and save you SO much time!
Visual timetables are an absolute MUST in an early years classroom. By providing a visual representation of the day's classroom schedule, children can understand the structure of their school day, and prepare themselves accordingly. Visual timetables are a great way to help reduce stress and anxiety (and the behaviours that stem from this) and instead promote self-regulation, engagement, focus and a positive learning environment.
Why are visual timetables so important?
Imagine you turned up to a professional learning day or training, and there was no agenda. How would you feel?
- You might feel anxious- are they going to ask me anything? How long will this go for? When will we have a break?
- You might talk to a friend to try and work out what’s going on.
- You might fidget or tap you pen while you’re trying to figure it out.
- You might switch off from the overwhelm, or do something else to distract yourself from your uncertainty.
Can you see where I'm going with this?? These are all low-level unsettled behaviours that our primary school kids can often display, stemming from uncertainty.
So, how can we help? By providing our students with certainty through a visual timetable.
What is a visual timetable?
Visual timetables display the class schedule for the day, with picture prompts to help all students to access and understand the timetable, as well as upcoming events.
Here's an example, using my pastel classroom visual timetable cards:
The benefits of a visual timetable
Visual timetables can be especially helpful for students with autism or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For these students, visual cues can be a more effective way to learn and retain information than verbal instructions.
In addition to helping students with special needs, visual timetables can be beneficial for all students. They can help keep students on track during the day, and reduce confusion about what is happening next. This can lead to improved focus and concentration in the classroom.
Visual timetables can help students as they transition between activities. A clear understanding of the day ahead can allow children to better prepare and manage transitions, by reducing some of the uncertainty and anxiety that they might otherwise experience.
- Visual timetables can also help students to make connections between real and abstract concepts- they can reflect on what they are doing right now compared to what they might be doing after recess or after lunch. There are opportunities for prepositional language to be used meaningfully in context, with the use of words such as first, next, after, before, then.
Ultimately, visual timetables help create a sense of order and predictability in the classroom, which can lead to a more productive and positive learning environment for all students.
Top tips for visual timetables:
- Keep templates simple, and try not to overwhelm students with too much information. Stick to simple pictures, and stick to one or two word descriptions.
- Involve students in the process. This could include co-constructing the timetable at the beginning of each day, or ticking off as items are completed throughout the day.
- Make sure the timetable is easily accessible - clearly displayed and visible to students throughout the day. This will allow students to refer to it as needed.
"But I don't have time to maintain a visual timetable..."
Visual timetables can indeed be time-consuming to maintain. Not only can they require a lot of initial preparation to cut and create, but they can also be fiddly to change over each day and crucial pieces of the timetable can sometimes be misplaced.
And, often our days end up being completely shuffled around anyway! #teacherlife
Luckily - I have a solution!
The Hive visual timetable is completely customisable and editable, making it the perfect tool for your classroom. It's the perfect teacher schedule app, as not only can you add your own schedule for your classroom for each of the days of the week, but there are loads of other organisational tools to help keep you on track - think to-do lists, grouping tools for creating and saving small groups, calendar for important dates, rotations and so much more.
You can easily add, remove, or edit activities to suit your needs. Items can be dragged and dropped within each day's school schedule, meaning that you can easily move things around if things change! You can add digital times and/or timers for each part of your daily routine, helping your students to learn time management as well as staying on top of each part of their day!
There are a range of existing design elements to choose from - images with and without children. You can also add your own images into the visual schedule template too! You choose the text for each item in your day, which makes The Hive's digital timetable so much more user-friendly than print versions where you're locked into set terms e.g. 'morning meeting' when you call it 'morning routine' or 'morning work', or 'social studies' when you call it 'Geography'! If you have additional extracurricular activities or special events (e.g. excursions or field trips), you can easily add these into your weekly agendas too!
Our colour picker is another great tool, which allows you to assign different colours to each of your subject areas, or individual items. All your colour-coordination dreams come true!
You can also link to your lesson plans or lesson resources in every section of your day. For example, you can link to your writing Google slides for your writing lesson, to a Microsoft Word document or Google docs which you might need for a computers lesson, or to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which you might need for a graphing lesson. You can also link to websites, google classroom, as well as to videos, learning apps and resources within The Hive.
If you've created slide decks using our Hive slides feature, you can also access those with the click of a button. Here are some examples of ready-made slide templates which you might like to add to your daily agenda slides, for example.
And, the best bit is, once you've set it up, it will save each day's schedule so that you can use it week in and week out for the whole year, making tweaks as and when needed. It's one of the easiest ways to stay on top of everything throughout the school year, and will make those stressful times of the year (hello report writing season) just that little bit more manageable!
If you're not tech-savvy, don't worry. We have videos and how-to guides which walk you through the simple steps that you need to follow in order to get your timetable and weekly schedule set up in very little time.
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