Visual timetables


Why are visual timetables important?

As adults we understand the passing of time, what is coming next and when things finish. Most of us would make use of a calendar, diary or a to do list to manage the day and our appointments throughout a period of time, this helps us to stay organised, plan things and help manage the unexpected. A child is yet to learn about the passing of time or what is going to happen next. Visual aids can offer a child the support they need with this.

A visual timetable is a tool to help someone to understand events that will happening throughout a period of time. It allows the child to see what they are doing now and what is going to happen after. This will help the child to be present in what and also be prepared for the next event.

Visual timetables can also help with specific routines such as washing hands and going to the toilet.

Visual timetables can help support every child because they are there to help break down routines and tasks instead of them being abstract. They can also be helpful for children with special education needs.

Visual timetables can help children to:

  • Understand spoken words and process information
  • Listening and remembering information they have heard
  • Understand the passing of time
  • Have less anxiety related to change, or moving from one activity to another.
  • Enable an opportunity to talk about activities that have already happen
  • Communicate things that they might find difficult to understand
  • increase their independence skills

Visual timetable benefits:

  • Provide boundaries for planning activities and moving from one activity to another.
  • They are secure and do not disappear unlike words which are abstract
  • They can attract a child and hold their attention
  • Make concepts more understandable such as before, after, next
  • Can be used as prompts and reminders

If you choose to introduce visual timetables to a child it takes time, you will need to model how to use it and keep repeatedly referring back to the pictures.

Depending on the child's level of understanding start off with photos of the child doing the activities, this way the child can relate to the images. Introducing visual timetables can take time, it is not something that a child will automatically use this is why the adult will need to model the process lots of times.

Top Tip

Start off with your child's level of understanding, this can simply be using a now and then timetable - this way your timetable can focus on what they are doing now and then understand what is going to happen next such as brushing their teeth. Use the visual timeline consistently, the more you use it and refer to it the more likely the child will eventually start referring to it themselves. Lastly be patient....introducing anything new takes time.
For further information download the parents factsheet from ICAN
Learn More

Age Groups

Find more games, resources, tips and links for your child's age group here.

Games & Resources

Take a look at more of our resources and games to help your child learn through play.


Information on how dummies can affect speech and language development...
Find Out More

Art in the outside environment

Out and About Art Nature has the very best materials...
Find Out More

Teddy is going to school

Help your child with the transition to school using play...
Find Out More

Tips & Links

Discover our bite-sized tips to help your child's development and links to useful websites here.

Read and Count with me by the sea

For the Essex Year of Numbers we have something exciting...
Find Out More

Childcare funding

What is Funded Early Education Entitlement (FEEE)? All children are...
Find Out More

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you looking for advice about your child's learning and development? We answer your frequently asked questions here.

Get in touch

For further support or advice, please feel free to contact us on the email address below.
Email Us

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram