Everyone should have the ability to exercise some control over their day and the activities that make up their life. A choice board, calendar, or strip can help to teach the concept of choice-making.
Choice-making is directly related to social and emotional development and leads toward self-determination skills. First you learn that you can make choices; then you learn that your choices have consequences. Learning to cope with the consequences is an important skill for life! This relates directly to self-regulation and behaviors that can be problematic socially.
To begin to teach choice-making we start with only two choices. It can be helpful if one choice is highly preferred. When the concept of “choosing” is learned, other choices can be added (a menu). You may not need the divider(s) on your device at this point. Instead you might offer a tray or basket of various choice symbols and let the student explore each one. This is a great opportunity for having a conversation about each possible activity.
You may want to create a more portable choice-making device. This can be done using carpet strips or other sturdy material that can be folded or rolled up easily for transporting.
Using the Choice Board or Strip:
- Choice-making opportunities should be treated as structured lessons until the team feels the student has a handle on the concept of “choice-making”.
- The team should determine a symbol and sign to represent “choice time” in the student’s daily calendar.
Instructional Strategies Menu
- Instructional Strategies
- Communication Overview
- Concept Development & Experiential Learning
- Interaction and Bonding
- The student should start with two choices (i.e. “this” or “that”). When the concept of choice-making is learned a more complex menu can be introduced in order to offer more than one choice at a time.
- You will need to make a choice board. The choice board is a simple board that is divided in half, visually and/or tactually to separate the two choices (a tray from the cafeteria with a Velcro strip down the middle to divide it in half works very well).
- Place a preferred activity symbol on each side and the student then chooses “this activity/ or that activity”.
- It is very important that when a choice is made they go and do that activity immediately.
- When choice-time is over “finish” both the activity that was chosen and the choice time activity symbol before moving to the next item in the daily calendar sequence.
Cameron Learns Choice-Making
In this video you will see Cameron who is being offered choices by his teacher, Adam. Cameron does not yet seem to really understand that he is making a choice, but as he experiences different activities represented in the choice board he will begin to make that connection. He is only being offered two choice options for this reason. Note that Adam wants to transfer the symbol for his choice in an Anticipation calendar and move Cameron to the activity as quickly as possible.
Haven Makes a Choice
Haven is a young woman who is visually impaired, but not hearing impaired. She has a better understanding of choice-making and no longer needs a choice-board to be able to make a choice. Note that the symbol for “choice time” is in her calendar.