5 Free Visual Schedule Templates (Plus How To Use Them)


A visual schedule sounds easy enough—a schedule with pictures. But it’s more than that. A visual schedule is meant to communicate where a child should be throughout the day or what a child should be doing. They are also meant to be an individualized tool that students learn to manage by themselves.

We created a bundle of five free printable visual schedule templates, including a:

Just fill out the form on this page to submit your email and get them all. Plus read on for more info about how to use your visual schedules.

What is a visual schedule?

A visual schedule uses pictures to show activities or the steps in an activity. They are often used to help students with disabilities, like autism, understand and manage their daily activities. Visual schedules can use pictures, photos, or words, depending on the child. And visual schedules can be used with kids from preschool through high school—it’s all about matching the visual schedule with the child’s needs.

A visual schedule will have pictures for daily routines, like reading, math, and lunch. It will also have things like weekly specials and events, gym class, art, speech or occupational therapy. It may also have images for occasional events, like a field trip, picture day, or a fire drill. All the pictures can be changed out so that the student can see what is going to happen that day.

A student may use a visual schedule for the entire day or a portion of the day. For example, a child may use a visual schedule to help them during a non-preferred activity. There may be separate pictures for each part of a reading group lesson to help the child stay focused and complete all the activities.

A visual schedule may also help a child learn and practice a routine, like using the bathroom and washing hands, or how to take out, use, and put away a classroom material. A morning routine visual schedule, for example, may have pictures to show a child the steps they need to complete when they arrive (unpack backpack, fill water bottle, etc). The idea is that the student has the opportunity to practice and learn the routine, with visual supports to give structure and reinforcement.

Who needs a visual schedule?

Visual schedules are typically for kids who are autistic, have ADHD, have developmental delays, or who process visual information easier than auditory or written information. A visual schedule is a very specific accommodation and will typically be recommended for a student based on an individual education plan (IEP) or Multi-tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS) meeting.

Read more: What Is MTSS? and What Is Special Education?

Visual schedules for autism

For students with autism, who often have strengths processing visual information and deficits processing auditory information, visual schedules provide a quick way to see where they are supposed to be or what they are supposed to be doing.

For autistic kids, visual schedules:

  • Increase understanding through the use of images
  • Provide predictability and routine
  • Communicate changes in routine in a familiar way
  • Help students understand what is expected of them without having to rely on verbal directions
  • Provide some control over their schedule as they move the image from “to do” to “done”
  • Generate independence as they learn to manage the visual schedule themselves

The ultimate goal of a visual schedule is for the student to learn to manage it themselves. So, at the start of the year, you’ll be teaching and reinforcing the routines and images, but in winter and spring, start handing over the task of managing the visual schedule to the student.

Visual schedules for ADHD

For kids with ADHD, who may struggle with executive functioning and processing verbal directions, visual schedules can:

  • Provide organization for their day or an activity
  • Help them know what’s expected of them
  • Reduce stress around transitioning from one activity to another
  • Reduce behavior concerns related to understanding what is expected of them

What is included in our visual schedule bundle?

We’ve provided five different versions of visual schedules that you can download and use with students in your classroom.

Hilary Statum

Daily Schedule

Use this visual schedule to help a child move through their entire school day. Post the schedule in a place that’s accessible, like on the side of your whiteboard or on their desk. Then, model and teach the student how to move each image from “to do” to “all done” as you move through the day.

Tip: The images in the visual schedule should be of where the student should be rather than what they are presently doing. For example, an image of the carpet rather than of morning meeting. The focus is on helping the student know where to be and when throughout the day.

First-then visual schedule on desk.
Hilary Statum

First-Then Board

The First-Then board shows a student what they are doing, in order and in manageable chunks. You could use a First-Then visual schedule with a small group of students to show them that they are going to do writing first, then break. Or you could provide each student their own First-Then schedule to help them manage their individual work.

Hand holding work-reward board visual schedule.
Hilary Statum

Work and Reward Board

Use this visual schedule template to show a student what they have to do to work for a reward. A student will use this visual schedule as they move through their day. So, you can put it at their desk and place the three things they have to do (read, write, read) before they earn their reward. When implementing this visual schedule, it can be helpful to have the student select their reward and take off the “to-dos” as they go. Also, be sure to keep the tasks manageable. A student that can work for five minutes will need three tasks they can do in the span of five minutes to earn a reward, while a student who can work for an entire block will need images that equate to longer amounts of time.

Morning routine visual schedule on a green rug.
Hilary Statum

Morning and Afternoon Routines

A visual schedule for morning and afternoon routines helps students who need reminders for arrival and dismissal. Post this where the student will perform the routine, or put it into a binder if the routine involves moving from one place to the next, to help the student work through the routine independently.

Binder visual schedule on colorful background.
Hilary Statum

Binder Visual Schedule

A visual schedule that fits into a binder can help older students who move from class to class and need a visual reminder of where to go next. Or it can go into a work binder to show students how to move through a block of time, like a literacy block.

How do I assemble my visual schedule printable?

Get ready to cut and laminate!

  • Print out the schedule you need.
  • Use the images we provided or pull your own from photos of your classroom and students.
  • Laminate the images.
  • Add Velcro on the back.
  • Post the schedule where your student can access it. For example, you may put the schedule at the student’s desk, or you may have it in a binder that they refer to after every lesson.

Get Your Free Visual Schedule Templates

Just fill out the form on this landing page to get instant access to all five visual schedules featured above.

Do you use visual schedules? Come share your experience in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out the Best Autism Resources for Educators.



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