I think that 'schedule' is a powerful tool that can be used to help our kids. Initially, we used picture schedule but we find that tough to use because it is difficult to carry around and sometimes, we don't have a picture for a certain activity. But I know that some parents really source for pictures, taking photos everywhere and do up a comprehensive schedule for their children. Kudos to these parents!
Now that Rayyan can read (thank you so much, God!), we use a written schedule for him. We write whatever activities that we want to do with him and the schedule is updated about 3/4 times per day.
The advantages of using this schedule are...
1) He is aware of what's going to happen so it lessens his anxiety. I mean, even for us, we want to know what we are going to do and where we are going. Just imagine being clueless and not knowing where you are heading and ending up at a place you dislike, without any prior warning. We will not be happy too!
2) Like I said, by doing this schedule, he is more prepared to go to school or his afternoon classes. And since he hates his afternoon classes, we usually write some places that he likes after his classes, like Toys R Us or playground so this actually motivates him to go because he has something to look forward to. So schedules can be used to motivate.
3) We can rope him in the decision-making and give him choices. Whenever we write his schedule, Rayyan will come to us and see what we write so when there's a chance, we will give him options. For example, we will ask him if he wants to go to a shopping centre or a park.
I remember the other day, we were about to leave my sister's house and I was about to write the next activity when he came over. I told him, "Let's go home!" He wasn't happy and refused to let me write 'HOME' on the schedule! So we negotiated a bit there :)
4) Through the schedule, he learns about days. We write the day at the corner and at the beginning of each day, we ask him what day is it so now he knows all the days.
5) And through this schedule also, he learns about the places around him, like IKEA, VivoCity, Toys R Us or other places. This makes him more aware of his surroundings.
So yes, schedule has really helped Rayyan to be more prepared and to understand the world around him better. It is so much better than just telling him because these kids, they need to SEE. As I always reiterate to Hubby, "VISUALS! VISUALS! VISUALS!"