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Kids Visual Timers: A Powerful Tool for Teaching Time Management

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Visual timers are a great tool for parents and educators alike to support children in understanding time duration and staying on task. With a little practice, you can make sure your child gets the most out of a visual timer!

In this article, we’ll explore the various types of visual timers available and how they can be used to help children with autism and other special needs manage their time.

We’ll discuss different features of these visual timers, popular apps that use them, as well as tips for using them effectively.

Why Use Visual Timers?

  • Visual timers can be helpful for many kids who have any difficulty in understanding abstract concepts like time. They can also be helpful for kids who have trouble staying on task or following directions.
  • These timers can help kids see how much time they have left to complete tasks, and they can help kids break down a task into smaller, more manageable chunks.
  • Additionally, visual timers are of great help in teaching children time management and organization skills.

Benefits of Visual Timers For Kids

A visual timer can be very helpful for kids, especially those with autism. They can help the child understand how much time has passed and how much time is left. This can be very helpful in situations where a child needs transitions. Visual timers can also help kids to understand the value of time and manage it properly. For better understanding, some benefits are discussed below:

Focus

When you want your kid to stay on task, you can count on visual timers as they help children to focus on a specific task. For example, if you want the child to work on a task for 20 minutes, you can set and watch a timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, the kid knows that it is time to take a break or move on to the next task.

Time Management

Visual timers can also be used to help children with time management skills. For example, if a kid is given 30 minutes to complete a task, you can set a timer for 30 minutes. This will help the child to budget their time and to work on the task until it is completed.

Understand Time Duration

Visual timers can also help children to understand time duration. For example, if you tell the child that they have 5 minutes to complete a task, they can use a visual timer to see how long 5 minutes actually is and when the timer goes off, the child knows that the activity is finished. This visual reminder can help the child to understand time duration and to spend their time accordingly.

Transit From One Activity to Another

Visual timers can be used to help children transition from one activity to another. For example, if you want the child to transition from playing to doing homework, you can set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, the child knows that it is time to stop playing and start doing homework.

Regular Intervals

When you want the child to take breaks at regular intervals, you can use visual cues and timers. For example, if you want the child to take a 5-minute break every 20 minutes, you can set the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, the child knows that it is time to take a break. This can help the child to stay on task and to take breaks at regular intervals.

Benefits for Children with Special Needs

Visual timers can be very helpful for children with special needs. They can help the child understand how much time has passed and how much time is left. This can be very helpful in situations where there is a need for transitions in tasks i.e. from one activity to another. Visual timers can also help kids to understand the value of time and manage it properly.

Benefits for Kids with ADHD

Visual timers can also be helpful for children with ADHD. Children with ADHD often have difficulty staying on task and may benefit from a visual representation of time. Visual timers can help children with ADHD understand how much time has passed and how much time is left. Additionally, visual timers can help children with ADHD stay on task and manage their time properly.

Benefits for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Visual timers can be particularly helpful for children with autism. Children with autism can have difficulty understanding time. They can help with time management skills and can also help children stay on task. Visual timers can also help children with autism understand the value of time and manage their time properly.

Apart from these, occupational therapists can use visual timers to help children with autism meet their goals. Visual timers in occupational therapy sessions can help with time management skills and can also help children stay on task.

Some Points to be Considered

Visual timers are not appropriate for all situations. Here are a few examples of when not to use visual timers:

If the Child is Distracted

If your child is easily distracted and cannot focus for more than 1-2 minutes at a time, they might not be suitable to use a visual timer. Visual timers should be used for children who are able to focus for a length of time or on a specific task. If the kid is easily distracted, they will not be able to focus on the task at hand, the visual timer may be ineffective.

If the Child is Anxious

If the child is anxious, consider not using a visual timer. Visual timers are best for children who are able to handle anxiety in a healthy way. For children who are anxious, the visual timer will only add to their anxiety and it will be ineffective.

If the Child is Sensitive to Time Pressure

If the child is sensitive to time pressure, consider not using a visual timer. Visual timers are best for children who are able to handle time pressure in a healthy way. For children who are sensitive to time pressure, the visual timer may not add any beneficial value to their lives.

If the Child is Angry

It’s better to avoid using a visual timer when the child is angry. In this circumstance, it is better for the child and parent to deal with the anger, rather than put on a visual timer. When a child is angry, the visual timer can only add to their anger and be of no effect.

If There’s an Emergency

A visual timer is not appropriate for emergency situations. Visual timers are meant to be used for planned activities or in non-emergency situations. If there’s an emergency, it’s better to avoid using a visual timer as it may no longer be relevant or useful.

When used appropriately, visual timers can be a great tool to help children with focus, proper management of screen time, and an understanding of time duration. It’s best to decide on a particular type of timer for your family only after trying a few different varieties.

Benefits for Children with Other Special Needs

Visual timers aren’t only beneficial for children with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, but they can also be of great assistance to children with other special needs.

For instance, kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), dyslexia, and various learning disabilities can significantly benefit from the use of visual timers.

For children with SPD, a disorder that affects how the brain processes sensory information, visual timers can provide a concrete, external sensory input that can help them manage their time and routine.

Dyslexic children and adults, who often struggle with time management and organization due to their learning difficulties, can also use visual timers to better understand abstract concepts like time.

The visual nature of these timers can cater to their strengths in visual-spatial learning. Similarly, for children with learning disabilities who might find it challenging to stay focused or complete tasks within set timeframes, these timers offer a visual aid to help them better grasp the abstract concept of elapsed time and enhance their self-management skills.

By the time tracker providing a clear visual cue, these timers help bridge the gap between abstract time perception and concrete understanding, promoting self-regulation, independence, and predictability for children with a variety of special needs. The versatility of visual timers makes them a valuable tool in accommodating the diverse needs of different learners, contributing positively to their overall development.

Here’s a list of different special needs conditions that can be assisted by visual timers:

  1. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD): Visual timers can provide consistent and predictable cues that help children with SPD adjust to transitions or changes in routine.
  2. Dyslexia: Given that many dyslexic children are strong visual learners, visual timers can provide a practical tool to help them comprehend abstract concepts like time and improve their time management skills.
  3. Learning Disabilities: For children with learning disabilities, visual timers can serve as a useful tool to manage time, stay focused, and complete tasks within a certain timeframe.
  4. Speech and Language Disorders: Visual timers can assist children with these disorders by providing a visual representation of the time they have left to articulate their thoughts or participate in speech exercises.
  5. Anxiety Disorders: Visual timers can be used to create predictability and routine in daily activities, which can help alleviate anxiety and stress in children.
  6. Executive Functioning Issues: For children who struggle with planning, organization, and task initiation, visual timers can offer an external visual cue to aid in these processes.
  7. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): As previously mentioned, visual timers can provide an external focus, helping kids with ADHD to understand time passage and manage their activities more effectively.
  8. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Visual timers can help children with autism transition between activities, understand the concept of time, and reduce anxiety related to change.

The flexibility of visual timers, combined with their ability to present time in an easily digestible format, makes them an essential tool for supporting children with a wide range of special needs.

Types of Visual Timer

There are various types of visual timers. Kids who can understand and read numbers can use a digital timer. On the other hand, there are countdown timers, sand timers, or liquid timers that you can try.

There are different types of timers. Ones that just countdown with numbers and the others that look like a clock face. Let’s take a look at how these timers work:

Countdown Timer

A countdown timer is a type of digital timer that counts down from a specific time. It can be helpful to use a countdown timer when you want to know how much time is left before an event or deadline.

Clock Face Timers

This type of timer looks like a clock face, with the numbers around the outside. The time is usually set by moving the hands on the clock face. For example, if you want to set the timer for 10 minutes, you would move the hands to the 10 o’clock position. When the timer reaches the end of the time period, it will usually make a loud noise to let you know.

Digital Timer

Digital timers are the most popular ones. This type of visual timer is similar to countdown timers, but they usually have a digital display instead of just numbers. It uses an LED screen to show the the time remaining that is left. The time can be set in minutes and seconds. There are also some digital timers that can be programmed to count down from a specific time.

Sand Timer

A sand timer is a type of physical timer that uses sand to keep track of time. The sand trickles from the top of the timer to the bottom. Typically, sand timers are used for shorter periods of time. It requires monitoring as they do not make a sound when the time has run out.

Liquid Timer

A liquid timer is a type of visual timer that uses liquid to keep track of time. The liquid trickles from the top of the timer to the bottom. Liquid timers are usually used for shorter periods of time, such as 1 minute or 2 minutes.

Classroom Timer

A classroom timer is a type of visual timer that is designed for use in the classroom. Classroom timers typically have a large display so that all students can see the time that is remaining. Classroom timers can be used for a variety of activities, such as giving students a certain amount of time to work on an assignment or to complete a test.

Different Features of Visual Timers

As there are many types of timers, so is there a variety of features for each type. Some of them are as follows:

  • The most common feature is the ability to set a specific time limit, either in minutes or seconds. Other features might include:
  • Some visual timers have pictures or words to represent the amount of time that has passed or that is left.
  • Others display a simple, ticking analog clock.
  • Some are silent while others emit a loud ticking noise or any other sound.
  • Many have a feature of sound regulation by which they can be volume-adjusted or muted.
  • Some are color-coded to help children understand when time is running out.
  • Some have an alarm that can be set to go off when time is up.
  • Some have a vibrating option for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Some have lights that flash when time is running out.
  • Some have sand, colored oil, gel, lava-lamp-type material, and other features to meet other sensory needs. These timers come under physical timers.

Visual Timer Apps

There are many different visual timer apps available that help children with time management skills. Here are a few popular ones:

Time Timer (iOS, Android)

Time Timer is a visual timer app that uses a red disk to show how much time is left. The app can be used for a 60-minute window. Using this app can help children with time management skills and staying on task.

Visual Timer (iOS, Android)

Visual Timer is a visual timer app that uses a colored bar to show how much time is left. The app can be used for timers of up to 60 minutes. This app allows kids to see the time that is left in the clock helps a more visual way.

Kids Visual Timers (iOS, Android)

Kids Visual Timers is a visual timer app that is specifically designed for kids. The app uses a variety of images and animations to help kids understand time. The app can be used for timers of up to 60 minutes. This app can be helpful for kids who have difficulty understanding time.

Visual Countdown Timer (iOS)

Visual Countdown Timer is a visual timer app that uses a countdown timer. The app can be used for timers of up to 60 minutes. This timer lets children track their remaining time in a more visual way.

As you can see, there are many different ways to use visual timers. Choose the method that works best for your family.

Tips for Using Visual Timers

Here are a few tips to use visual timers effectively:

  • Start with shorter periods of time and gradually increase the amount of time as your child gets used to using the timer.
  • Use visual timers for both activities that your child enjoys and do not enjoy.
  • Use a visual timer for activities that your child is struggling with, such as staying on task or completing tasks on time.
  • Help your child understand that the timer is a tool to help them and not a punishment.
  • Make sure the timer is visible and easily accessible so that your kids can start it when necessary.
  • Set the timer together so that your kids know how much time they have to complete the task.
  • Encourage your little ones to take breaks if they start to feel overwhelmed.
  • Choose a visual timer that is appropriate for your child’s age and abilities.
  • Try out a few different types of timers and see which ones work best for your little one.

Takeaway

Visual timers are considered a helpful tool for parents and educators. Many parents count on these timers as they can be used to help children with time management skills, help in transitions when needed, and understand time duration. With a little practice, visual timers can be a helpful tool for kids of all ages. A timer can also be used in a school by the teachers to time the students while they are taking tests so that they can manage their time.

It’s essential to use visual timers appropriately. Support your children by choosing the visual reinforcement method that works best for your children and your family.

Resources:

10 Free Visual Timers for Kids and Autism. (2022). Retrieved 9 June 2022, from https://adayinourshoes.com/10-free-visual-timers-for-kids-and-autism/

Schectman, T. (2022). 20 Visual Timers For Children With Special Needs – Friendship Circle – Special Needs Blog. Retrieved 9 June 2022, from https://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2012/11/06/20-visual-timers-for-children-with-special-needs/

Visual Timers – What, Why and How! | Child Development Centre. (2022). Retrieved 9 June 2022, from https://www.cdchk.org/parent-tips/visual-timers/

The Benefits of Using Visual Timers with Children. (2022). Retrieved 9 June 2022, from https://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2021/03/benefits-of-using-visual-timers-with-chiildren.html

These Visual Timers Will Teach Your Kids the Meaning of 5 More Minutes. (2022). Retrieved 9 June 2022, from https://theinventory.com/teach-your-kids-the-meaning-of-5-more-minutes-with-th-1842095768

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