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 digital visual timetable 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 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 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.
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!
Introducing The Hive's Visual Timetable
The Hive visual timetable is completely customisable and editable, making it the perfect tool for your classroom.
You can easily add, remove, or edit activities to suit your needs. Items can be dragged and dropped within each day's schedule, meaning that you can easily move things around if things change!
Choose from a wide variety of images, with and without children.
You can assign different colours to each subject/item. All your colour-coordination dreams come true!
Do you need The Hive in your teaching life?
It all comes together on your teacher dashboard, giving you complete control over your classroom environment and aesthetic, and allowing you to save your favourites for easy access.
The Hive is guided by your feedback. Your feedback and requests help shape The Hive into the perfect website for you. We are guided by you, and what you need practically in the classroom to help make your life easier.