Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Life Skills Education: Teaching Independence

Developing independence in basic routines and life skills is important for any student in order to decrease the need for adult prompting and increase dignity and self-sufficiency. When planning life skills tasks, I look YEARS into my students' futures to envision where they may be as adults. From there, I decide on tasks they can learn now to demonstrate responsibility. Life skills are cross-curricular, and are linked with other skills my students are learning; such as matching, sorting, patterning and Social Skills. 
Life Skills Area
Our Life Skills Program is...

1. Consistent
We practise Life Skills on a daily basis for 20 minutes. I find that repetitive practise allows the students to learn tasks quicker and allows for expanding and generalizing concepts sooner. Pick a time of day and make life skills part of your everyday routine.

Level 1: Transferring objects from container to basket.
Level 2: Sorting by attribute
Level 3: Advanced sorting by attribute
2. Realistic
Speak with parents about what their biggest life skills priorities are - perhaps it would make their lives easier if their child could dress or feed themselves, or simple learn to clean up their toys. If students are approaching the end of high school, start thinking about what skills they will need to be successful in a post-secondary education, vocational program or group home.

Table Setting is a great way to practise Patterning
Fine Motor Practise: Zippers, Buttons & Folding
Task Analysis strip for putting on velcro shoes
1 bin for easy cleaning up - I don't expect my students
to put toys back "where they belong" - that's for later!
3. Purposeful
Life Skills tasks are a great way to provide meaningful work for students and to include them in the school community. Think of tasks they can do that require them to move around the school, such as: delivery, attendance, photocopying, social rounds, etc.

Use simple visuals to show "to do & done"
Paper and Plastic Sorting on Recycling Day
Delivery  helps students practise social skills while
performing tasks in the school community
3. Measurable
Track life skills successes by breaking down a task into steps (this is called TASK ANALYSIS). This makes it very easy to track and steps can be taught in isolation first and then added into the routine later, such as hand washing.


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