Creating student schedules are a lot of work. You need to create a schedule, select the right type of schedule for each student, make the schedules, laminate, velcro, etc. Once you schedules are prepped and ready to go, the real work begins. Schedules do not teach themselves. They are a tool. People need to be taught to use a tool. Just like you wouldn’t hand a student a book and say, “read” – we cannot hand our kids a schedule and expect them to follow it with no instruction.
Model Schedule Use
The first step is showing the student how to use the schedule. Go through the steps with them. Demonstrate picking up the schedule piece or crossing off the previous center. This can get tricky when you have a lot of students with new types of schedules or new students to your class. You can’t be in 8 places at once as each student utilizes his individual schedule at the same time. For this situation, I recommend pacing out your center rotation and walking each student through their schedule one at a time. This is how this looks: Let your aides know that you will begin the center rotation and they should wait for you to approach their center to transition kids (aka don’t go by the time on their schedule). A few minutes before the center rotation should occur, bring the group that is with you to their schedules. Model schedule use and provide prompts. Bring them to the next center. At that center, take the group that was there and follow the same routine to bring them to their next center. Complete this process until all groups have transitioned and you are back with a group at your table. Depending on the length of your center, you may only a short time period with that group until it’s time to transition again. That’s okay – spend the time teaching the schedule now.
During this process, work on fading your prompts. Check out this post to learn more about how to do this effectively. Be sure to give wait time and allow students to demonstrate their skills. Start with more restrictive prompts and as students get successful move to less invasive prompting techniques. Be aware of your prompting. Teach your staff how to follow this protocol and fade prompts as well. For students, it might take a while to move towards independent schedule use. That’s okay. As long as you are moving in the right direction and you’ll need your team on the same page while that happens.
Just like all instruction we do in our classrooms, teaching schedule use is not a one and done. You need to continue to work on teaching appropriate use of the schedule throughout the year. The schedule will continue to be an important tool for your students. You can use the schedules to teach handling changes and new activities. Schedules are especially helpful on particularly tough days or during times of challenging behaviors.
Check out my mini training series video on my 10 Dos and Don’ts of Schedules: