Now more than ever, children need structure throughout their day. Establishing a daily routine can help your child increase independence and provide consistency during the day. Here are a few tips that might help establish a routine with your child.
1. Use a Visual Schedule
Using a visual schedule can help provide structure throughout your day so that your child knows what activities they will be completing during the day. Try to use real photos of activities so that your child will learn how to use the visual schedule quickly.
2. Organize the Environment
Put all of your materials and activities for the day in one organized area of your home so your child will know where to access materials during the day. This will help your child to independently access materials needed during the day and will help to organize the environment.
3. Try to Balance Activities
Structure your child’s day so that there is a balance between preferred and non-preferred activities. For example, if your child really does not like sitting down to eat breakfast, place a picture of the breakfast table on your visual schedule. Then, have a highly preferred activity on your schedule after breakfast. This will reinforce your child for sitting to eat breakfast and will help with transitions during your day.
4. Reinforce, Reinforce, Reinforce!
Remember reinforcement is your strongest tool to strengthen behavior! If your child uses the visual schedule throughout the day, provide reinforcement to motivate your child and increase the likelihood that they will use the visual schedule in the future! A visual schedule will help provide structure, foster independence and help with transitions while your child is at home but will work even better with strong reinforcers in place.
It takes time to establish a structured routine especially with all of the unpredictability we have all experienced these past few months. Remember to be consistent, patient with your child while establishing new routines, and provide reinforcement when your child completes an activity.
Danielle Bendon, BCBA | Manalapan Center Supervisor
Danielle Bendon is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has been working with individuals with autism and developmental disabilities since 2014. She has an undergraduate degree in Education from West Chester University and a graduate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Ball State University. Danielle is also a certified NJ special education and elementary education teacher.