Thursday, August 14, 2014

Visual Schedule and Preschool!

Our school supplies arrived yesterday!

That is always one of the best days of the year!

We are not talking about four dozen pencils and six boxes of tissue.

No, our school supplies are way more exciting! We are talking about full color Graphic Novels about Historic Disasters, chemistry sets, Flubber, puzzles, games, a Laser Maze, and more. And of course workbooks, textbooks, and all the bubble wrap that came with it!

And this year holds even more excitement as we officially have a 7th grader, 3rd grader, and Preschooler!!

Yup, we are doing an organized schedule with specific activities, even with Kitty Bitty. 

Her need for a more regimented schedule has been increasing for a while. And quite frankly I think plain old boredom has been a big contributor to her less pleasant outbursts, biting episodes, and control issues.

She is constantly hungry for new academic and cognitive challenges and she has mastered pretty much all the casual learning there is to be had around here. It's definitely time for some supplemental stimulation. Though I'm not looking to reach any specific academic goals, there is no such thing as too exposure to critical thinking skills, problem solving, music, art, exploration and literature! No matter their age.

When Kit is idle lately, she finds trouble, so organizing her time with fewer gaps might keep her mind and body busy but her bottom off the Naughty Spot a bit more.

I've never been a strict schedule person, but when Kit came along, she changed a lot of things I used to be. Like a person who slept at night.

Nevertheless, all of us are at a point right now that a bit stricter routine has a calming influence rather than a restrictive one. And calm is good. And to help facilitate calm, structure and routine, I have finally found a website that lets you make visual aids, from real photos, for free!

I absolutely love it. The pictures are great, and though there is over 300, I still hope they add even more!

Kit responds to photographs. She has always preferred real life pictures to illustrations, even as an infant.

They have several different templates to choose from depending on the size you desire. And the steps are clear and easy.

I made three sheets of twelve 2x2 images, and one sheet of four 4x4. I was able to label the pictures myself, and the photos are full color which was exactly what Kit likes best.

I used self laminating sheets to make ours sturdy and durable!

Some of the cards are Activities of Daily Living images, like breakfast, washing hands, and sleep. 

Others are more activity based according to how our "school" day looks, such as puzzles, book work, music, or outside.

A couple are travel cards. Designed to be taken with us and pulled out on a key chain as needed. "Hold hands" is going to be very useful in letting her know the rules of the parking lot before her feet even touch the pavement, but also as a visual reminder halfway in when she wants to let go and run. "Seat belt on" will also serve as the visual rule for going anywhere. She doesn't give Daddy nearly as hard a time as me, but getting her buckled in is often a time consuming struggle!

And then we have the bigger cards. I anticipate these being referred to many times a day for quite a while still.

They show an emotion, happy or angry, and are paired with an acceptable way to show that feeling. When happy she may pet the cat with gentle hands. When angry, she may squeeze, lay on, or bite any of her stuffed animals.

She has made some improvement in this area, but we still have a long way to go before she restores a non-biting relationship with the real cat. I really hope these help. They will be displayed in a highly visible area at her eye level so that she can refer to them as needed and as much as she wants.

I also have sensory diet cards and body movement cards that will be placed strategically throughout the daily routine. But I purchased these from Amazon.

So starting Tuesday, our schedule will be a little stricter, a little busier, and a whole lot more visual!

She really likes her farm animal counters. She arranged them all on her new farm play mat. All of the pigs went in the pond since it didn't have a mud hole. :)

If you'll excuse me now, I have to go shovel a path through the kids room to make room for our new supplies!


  1. Seventh, Third and Preschool! What a Busy Family!

    Do you remember when I told you Cathy N's autistic son didn't talk, or respond to verbal direction? But when she discovered he could read at age 2 or so, she printed out all directions on paper and gave them to him. He would read and then do the activity. Dressing, teeth-brushing, etc.
    The pictures do same thing for Kit. And she will soon recognize the words in other contexts.

  2. Yes, I've thought of that often. A visual schedule has been in the plan for over a year and a half, but it was too overwhelming when I was at my worst, and I couldn't find anything that had real photos that didn't cost a fortune. But we have a great start now to reinforce all the wonderful progress she has made!

  3. Wow! That looks like fun! I just found your site through the manic Mondays blog hop. I'm curious, do you designate an amount of funds for school supplies or do you just buy whatever. I used to be an elementary school teacher so I know I would totally go overboar

  4. Hi Tricia! Thanks so much for stopping by!
    Yes, we designate a certain amount for each year and put money aside for it month by month. I try to purchase as much school stuff as I can when I buy their curriculums, which I customize each year, so that the funds are better regulated. Any special purchases for school are made around this time. But throughout the year we suppliment with spur of the moment things, and anytime there are good sales on things like crayons, notebooks, or items we can use in sensory bins I stock up. We use so much general houshold stuff for school that I don't separate everything into the school buget, but mainly for the curriculums. And it's not the same amount every year either. Last year I purposely spent less than half our designated amount in part because I knew this year was going to cost more. I could have just put together my own preschool instead of purchasing it, but because of my daughter's autism and sensory needs, I really liked the curriculum I got with the intention of using it for up to thre years or more, and how so much of it is hands on, and aimed at encouraging many different thinking skills. With all the items put together for me, I can expend less mental energy compiling, and just dive right in with her! For us, the extra expense pays big dividens throughout the year, for my sanity among other things!