Benefits of Life Skills Instruction
In a world that seems hyper-focused on STEM skills, everyday life skills also play a critical role in a well-rounded and comprehensive education. Learning daily living skills, social skills, and appropriate work skills will benefit every student. Not every special needs child will accomplish perfect mastery of all life skills, but it pays to give children practice in as many life skills as are appropriate for their abilities. With the right preparation and patience, children can develop at least some of the essential skills required to foster independent living.
The importance of building Independence for a special needs student
We have seen a positive relationship between life skills acquisition and quality of life for both students and parents. Fostering independence in children is an important goal for any parent.
For special needs children, life skills are especially crucial as they can play an essential role in improving sensory processing, communication, safety, social relationships, and acquiring independence. Complete independence may not be possible for every child, but even small steps toward mastering any life skill can increase independent functioning, motivate the child, and give caregivers a welcome break -- bringing positivity and happiness to the whole family.
Confidence and self-esteem
Practicing life skills can improve a child’s self-esteem, confidence, and social competence. Learning any new skill instills in children a sense of pride and accomplishment. Learning life skills will further help children make the most out of life, helping them to take action and increase agency in their own lives. Mastering an increasing repertoire of life skills can give special needs children more options for participation in the workplace and community where they can live to their fullest potential. And it’s fun!
Gateway students enjoy life skills activities such as preparing and eating breakfast together in our ADL room. These types of learning activities are very appropriate for the Gateway student because they are both hands-on and multi-sensory. The research supports these types of applied actions to enable our students to learn more effectively.
How can parents help?
Parents can take an active role in teaching life skills at home with tasks that provide real world practice in decision making and problem solving. Patience and praise are parents’ most important tools in reinforcing life skills at home. Focus on one skill at a time. It can be as simple as making the bed, getting dressed, or preparing breakfast. If they are able, children can be responsible for budgeting expenses with an allowance, caring for a pet, or volunteering in the community. Work with your child’s team to identify the appropriate skill for your child to start with, and break it down into separate, small steps. Give the child lots of opportunities for practice with patient guidance from you. For each step the child completes, pile on the praise! Celebrating each success, no matter how small, will increase the child’s motivation and confidence.
Gateway’s mission is to help prepare our students for a full and meaningful life. Learning and practicing life skills at school and at home will help foster a greater level of independence, confidence, and self-esteem, supporting the student throughout life.
Request a Tour of The Gateway School
Since 1980, RKS Associates has been a leader in providing the needs of special education students and helping children grow to their fullest potential. Each of our schools seeks to empower each student with skills for life, work, and recreation; we believe that every individual possesses the dignity and potential to contribute to a better world.
As part of the RKS Associates Network of schools in New Jersey, the goal at the Gateway School is to assist all students in becoming as independent as possible and help them get ready for the future. Located in Carteret, NJ, we serve individuals throughout Central and Northern New Jersey. Contact us at our main office at 732.541.4400 with any questions or schedule a private tour of the Gateway School today.
Chris Hoye, Principal-The Gateway School of Carteret, NJ