Communicating the change of routine during school holidays.

The Easter holidays are finally here which is exciting and a nice rest for children – but it also means that the routine that they so badly need and rely on can go out of the window.

If you find your child becomes unsettled during the school holidays, it’s most likely because having a consistent routine helps them to feel settled and in control. Without it, they don’t know what is happening and, although they might not realise it, this leaves them feeling uneasy.

The simplest, most obvious way to let your child know what is happening in the holidays is to tell them. Easy, right? Well, no, unfortunately. Just being told, verbally, doesn’t work for many children because:

  • They may not be able to process the information you have given them
  • They might not remember the information you have given them
  • They might not have developed a concept of time, therefore they can’t relate what you have told them to anything.

So, we need a more effective way of communicating what is happening. The answer? Pictures. Here’s why pictures are more effective than words at communicating what is happening:

  • Pictures support processing. If your child can’t quite make sense of what you have said, they can see what you mean in the picture.
  • Pictures allow time for processing – spoken words disappear as soon as they are spoken. Pictures don’t. Your child can keep looking for as long as they need to.
  • Pictures don’t disappear. I know, I just said that. But this also supports your child if they have a tendency to forget what they have been told. (How many times do you check your diary? It’s the same for them).
  • Pictures promote independence – your child can find out for themselves without having to repeatedly ask you. They then have ownership, and this boosts their self esteem. Win win.

What do you mean communicate with pictures? How?

Simple. Use a visual timetable or visual schedule. This means using photos or clear drawings, which we call visual symbols, to represent different aspects of day to day life. There are a few different ways you can do this, ranging from just showing what is coming up in the next hour, to showing the whole month at once. This allows your child to see what is happening. 

Here are some examples:

A Now and Next board shows the next two things coming up. Great for someone that struggles to process too much information at once. To extend this, you could try a Now, Next and Then board.


A Visual Timetable shows approximately the next 10 things coming up. Great for breaking up parts of the day into simple steps.



A Weekly Timetable shows a week at a time, so that someone can have an overview of the key points in their week such as days out and clubs.



A Monthly Timetable shows just the main thing happening on each day, showing a whole month at a time.


Using visuals to communicate what is happening means your child now has a sense of ownership over their holidays. If there are last minute changes, you can communicate this by changing the pictures, so your child can see what the change is.

Adults like to know what is happening, and so do children. Communicating this can make all the difference to your child over the holidays, and a happier child means a happier family.



Wishing you a lovely Easter break,


Gina Smith

Founder of Create Visual Aids

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