The following article provides ideas on how to use pictures and photos within an early childhood setting to help guide children throughout their day.
If you entered a room and did not understand the language being spoken or written, what would you do? Chances are you would use visual cues to comprehend what was going on around you and your environment. Perhaps you would watch what other people were doing for some clues. Young children who are learning to talk, who are learning more than one language, who have special needs and challenges, will benefit greatly with visual messages to guide them through their day. In an early childhood setting, regardless of the age, visual presentations help in overall comprehension and organization for the group as a whole.
Children’s Photos for Visual Cues
One of the easiest and inclusive ways to use visual cues for children is to have their photos posted for identification. Children love to see themselves in the mirror and by using photos of themselves it helps create a personal space for each participant. There are a number of areas where photos can be used for identifiers in an early childhood room. First of all, cubbies is a great spot to place photos so young children can easily find where to hang and place their belongings. Another great place for a child’s photo is with a magnet board stating, ‘Who is Here Today?”. The child’s photo will also hold a magnet and the picture can be placed on and off. A place mat for snack and/or lunchtime can have photos of the child and his/her family on it and then laminated for continued use. Perhaps, a circle time setting might benefit with photo mats to determine where each child will sit.
The Schedule in Pictures
Pictures of the day’s schedule helps children who are needing a sense of order or are having a challenging time remembering the daily expectations. A poster showing the daily schedule with pictures can be placed in a location easily viewed. In addition, certain areas of the room could have images showing what is expected, such as near the sink for hand washing and toileting.
Photos for Toys and Material
Children can take ownership of their playing environment and the material by knowing where things belong. One of the ways to instill this self help skill, is to place pictures on baskets and containers instead of words. Rather than printing the word, “Lego”, young children will benefit with a drawing or photo of the toy. This visual cue will aid in the clean up process.
Circle Time Visual Presentations
Circle time is one of the best places to use visual presentation when songs, books and activities are being led by the adult caregiver. Felt stories, puppets, and pictures all help with a child’s learning process and language development. The telling of a story is enhanced when pictures can be viewed and young children can easily see the image to correlate with the word being spoken. Furthermore, songs may be chosen by children through picture cards. For instance, a selection of cards with pictures on it could represent well known songs. As an example, a spider picture would represent “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”.
To conclude, if a childcare provider thinks about how it would feel to be in a busy environment while struggling with the routine and/or language, she will inevitably be reminded to increase visual cues for the children throughout the day.