Why Visual Routines Work

visual routines header

So I know this post is a bit ironic, seeing as how I have definitely gotten out of the routine of blogging. My last post was over a month ago!

Y’all, blogging is hard. Starting a blog is even harder when you feel like a teeny-tiny guppy in a huge ocean of blogs.

Those of you who have left comments, liked my Facebook page, and shared with your friends, thank you.

It motivates me to keep going.

So to kick-off my re-emergence into blogging, I want to talk about visual routines; what they are, why they are awesome, and different ways to implement them in your daily life.

Visual routines are just that: you put what/how you want your child to do something in picture form.

Like this:


visual routines

Aren’t these beautiful? They just make my speech-therapist/momma heart sing. These are from a company called Easy Daysies. I found these ones in the clearance bins at Barnes and Noble, but it appears you can order them on Amazon. There also several different options, such as getting dressed, doing chores, etc.

They are so awesome, not because my little one needs help remembering the steps, but it encourages her to do it quickly. Mommy is not amused when a simple potty break takes 15 minutes and a miracle to finish.

But that is a tangent for another post.

As my example shows, visual routines can serve several purposes. They can introduce a new routine, they can help set expectations and maintain routines, and they can improve the frequency/speed of the routine.


Because most children are visual learners, at least in the early stages of life. Visual instructions are tangible, and the child can mimic them until they reach the rote memory, or muscle memory stage.

This is especially important for children who may be delayed in their development. They often need additional support to complete multi-step tasks; they may also struggle with cognitive processing- in this case, the ability to hear directions, process them internally, and then act on the directions.

Have I sold you on putting some visual routines into your child’s life?

Why, yes, Miss Haley, but you haven’t told me how to make them tailored to my child and my life. Also, I don’t have a laminator. 

Okay here are my thoughts for implementing visual routines at home:

  1. Think about the times of day that are the hardest for your child. Is it getting ready for the day, going to the bathroom, cleaning up, or getting ready for bed?

Not that I’ve ever experienced any difficulty in getting my children to cooperate during these parts of the day.

Start there.

2. The order of the routine has to be non-negotiable. If you have a particularly stubborn child (once again, no experience with that), you might want to involve him/her in deciding the order of things. Within reason, of course.

3. The pictures you use need to be simple and direct. No distracting details here.

When I made visual routines for the special needs preschoolers I worked with, I simply cut one long strip of construction paper and then printed the pictures out and stuck them on the construction paper.

If you doubt your creative abilities, I found some awesome FREE printables at Tools to Grow OT (and yes, sometimes occupational and speech therapy overlap. It’s just how we do.)

You could also use a product like the Easy Daysies I mentioned earlier.

Or, if you have a child that loves technology, there’s the Visual Routine app. It is 3.99, but it looks to be a great app to manage routines!

I hope I have inspired you to try some visual routines in your child’s life! They are so simple, but can make a BIG impact on your child’s ability to follow directions ( which is a nice way of saying KEEPING YOUR MOM SANITY!!)

Please give them a try and let me know how it goes!


Author: Miss Haley

My name is Haley, and I am a wife, mother, and speech therapist. I want to teach parents simple yet effective speech therapy principles and strategies to improve language at home.

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