Using visuals in a Special Education classroom and really in any classroom, home, or treatment room is very valuable. It helps children know what they need to do or what their schedule will look like (go here for more info). Visuals are also critical to help a child move from one activity to another (aka transitions), especially if this is hard for them. In a special education preschool, this can mean moving from centre time to circle time, snack, gym, etc..
Some children respond really well to pictures or symbols, and those can be used to help children transition. I tend to have a variety of sizes of visuals as some respond to smaller visuals and some respond to full page size visuals. The child typically carries it from one activity to another and puts it away when the new activity starts. For some kids, 2D visuals just aren’t as compelling. For many of these children, I have found that using objects to represent different parts of their day have worked.
Some objects work better than others. Here are some of my guidelines.
- The object has to be related to the activity the child is going to do. For example, using a ball to represent gym/recess.
- You use the same object for the same transition.
- The object is only used as a transition object. Once the activity or the transition is over, it goes back to its proper place. It is NOT a toy to be played with.
- It can’t be too enticing meaning that it is more attractive than the activity. For example, I don’t use a jar of bubbles because then most children would want to blow bubbles instead of participating in the next activity.
- It has to be light enough for the children to carry.
- It has to be 3D.
Some objects that I use
Implimenting this has been very helpful. While transitions can still be difficult, using objects has helped to reduce the stress and anxiety that transitions can evoke.