There’s truly nothing worse than receiving a computer generated timetable for your child. It’s usually in grey scale, full of acronyms and hard to read, even for parents. My daughter received something like this on her first day of high school last week. She ended up distressed, as she thought it was a completely new timetable to the one I’d given her.
Except, if you look closer, it wasn’t.
It turns out, it was exactly the same timetable that had been available on the school website for a week beforehand. Mind you, it took me several minutes to look over it and interpret the information that was there. No wonder Matilda was confused – I was lost for a while there myself!
It shows just how important it is to take the time to make sure your child’s timetable is easy to read and follow. Having a clear timetable in place reduces confusion, anxiety and error. It also makes the transition to high school a little easier for students already overwhelmed with new classrooms, teachers, subjects and classmates.
I learned this lesson last year, when my eldest son, Gilbert, started high school. Putting together a personalised template for his timetable was one of the most effective strategies we used to help keep him organised and calm during his first year.
Creating a personalised timetable allowed us to go over each period with him, so he understood where he needed to be, what he needed to take and who was going to teach him. Giving him the opportunity to assign a colour to each subject gave him a little bit of control in a situation where he felt overwhelmed. It was actually quite enlightening to discover his reasoning for each colour choice!
Combining a personalised colour-coded timetable with brightly covered books, desk organisation and a colour-coded map of the school helped him navigate the maze of new teachers, subjects, classrooms and schedules. It was effective and it worked for us. So, we’ve adapted similar strategies to help Matilda this year.
Like her brother, Matilda is on the autism spectrum and struggles with executive functioning. Putting together a personalised and colour-coded timetable for each of them plays to their visual learning style. It helps them clearly see where they need to be and when they need to be there.
It’s not all that hard to personalise your child’s existing timetable. If you’re familiar with Microsoft Word or Google Docs or a similar program, it’s starts with putting together a table, inserting the details for each period and colour-coding each cell to make it easy for your child to see each subject.
If you’re daunted by the thought of creating your own from scratch, I’ve created a simple template that you can customise. It’s easy to adapt to suit your child’s needs. All you need to do is input the subject, room and teacher details and colour-code each cell. It really is that simple.
You can download your copy of this free template here: