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.

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Our 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.
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Level 1: Transferring from basket to basket
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Level 2: Sorting by type
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Level 3: 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.
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We don’t ask students to put things away on shelves – 1 bin for easy clean up
Task Analysis for putting on shoes
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Fine Motor: buttons, zippers, folding
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Table Setting: Practice in Patterning
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.
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Delivery Job: Helps to incorporate social skills and greetings
Paper and Plastic: Sorting on Recycling Day
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Simple Visuals to show “To Do” and “Done”
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.
Task Analysis Data Sheet for Hand Washing
Visual Picture Sequence for Hand Washing

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