It’s J’s first day of spring break vacation, exciting and daunting because it raises the question: what will I do to keep him busy and engaged all day?
Luckily for me I learned during home school that a little planning goes a long way and a lot of planning saves the day. So the first thing we did today after breakfast was make a loose schedule. I could see J relax as soon as I started to write-up the familiar template. Schedules saved us during home school and made me realize how much calmer J was when he knew what was happening, when it would end, and what was expected of him. Sounds simple enough right? Even I like having that knowledge but I don’t need to have it written down nor do I need to refer to it as often. I came to accept that this was one of those things that made J, J.
Once I started using schedules with J I became addicted! The results were undeniable. He was so much calmer and looked forward to writing them up with me. It showed me he cared about having a choice, he enjoyed sharing his opinion, and that he cared about being acknowledged. He was present, he was awake, although no one else seemed to notice, but I was beginning to and he was so happy to see me working with him instead of around him.
This became our morning routine. Every morning we would have breakfast and after we would write-up the schedule for the day. I like to use a dry erase board because it allows us to switch things up in case anything needs to be altered, here is an example of what a schedule during home school would look like: Sample of a Daily Home School Schedule
He was not always in a cooperative mood especially with subjects that challenged him more. It definitely helped him to know there was an end point to the torture known as “math”. This also kept him focused and although he needed to check the schedule every so often it also helped him learn more about telling time.
I started using this format outside of home school since it was working so well. Whenever I knew J might have a hard time with the task at hand be it going to the doctors, a family function, or a trip to the supermarket, I implemented the schedule. It was usually much simpler and looked like this: Quick Schedule using First and Then
Now J is at the point that I can use this format on a verbal level. I can tell him first we are going to the supermarket, then we are visiting grandma, and then we will go home. He usually repeats it to make sure he got it. He even says it on his own sometimes if we are doing something he doesn’t want to, like if he has school, he will say “first school then come home and free time”. It’s a great comfort for him to know he has a say in what his day looks like. If we are going somewhere new or I think an activity maybe challenging I will try to have this ready but if I don’t I will write it up on the fly with a pen and pad I always carry on me.
If you are finding your child is having a hard time cooperating even if they are not on the spectrum I encourage you to give schedules a try. Allow your kids to help construct them with your pre picked options. I hope the routine of schedules brings peace and organization to your house as well. Please comment and let me know how your attempt went or if you have any questions or stories to share about schedules.