Learning Daily Living Skills for Special Needs Students: Making Breakfast

Learning Daily Living Skills for Special Needs Students: Making Breakfast

learning to make breakfast at the Gateway School in NJ

Making Breakfast – Starts the day off on the right track for special needs students

As part of our Life Skills Program, students at Gateway School are encouraged to learn and gain confidence in a variety of daily living skills that will support them in their everyday lives. Training in daily living skills such as self-care, personal hygiene, laundry, cooking, and cleaning takes place in our ADL (Activities of Daily Living) classroom which includes a fully functioning kitchen, laundry, and living area. Our Life Skills Program offers students the opportunity to practice and gain confidence to face many of the daily challenges found in a home or apartment environment. Through a collaborative approach with the classroom and therapy staff, students are given tools that they need to be successful in their independent lives. 

Students learn how to make simple recipes with a few ingredients to full-course meals, as they progress through their time at Gateway School.
One activity that takes place in our ADL room is making breakfast together with the guidance and support of the Speech Therapist, the Classroom Teacher and the paraprofessional aides in the room. Students participate by performing different tasks individually or in groups.
  • Some students mix ingredients for scrambled eggs.
  • Some use the stove to cook the eggs.
  • Another group of students makes toast, using the toaster and spreading butter on the toast.
  • Another group of students sets the table with paper plates and plastic utensils.
  • Finally, the whole ADL class joins together at the table to eat the meal they have made.
  • All students assist with clean-up activities.

Confidence and Self-esteem

While it may take several practice sessions for the students to master each of the steps involved in making breakfast, we make sure that each student is fully engaged to the best of their ability, and with the appropriate guidance to ensure safety. We minimize frustration by providing assistance for any steps that students can’t complete on their own. Each skill in the activity of making breakfast may include a long list of steps for the student to learn, memorize, and perform.

Completing any one of these challenging tasks can raise students’ confidence in their own abilities, and it gives staff opportunities to praise students’ accomplishments. With each task successfully completed, students’ self-esteem rises as they experience the feeling of a job well done and revel in their increasing competence and independence. And it is especially rewarding knowing that they are helping to create the meal the entire class will enjoy.

Workplace Readiness

Not only does this activity give students hands-on practice in important daily living skills like safely using kitchen appliances, preparing food, and setting the table, it also allows students to practice broader social skills necessary for appropriate participation in a workplace and/or community. Engaging and communicating with the group to complete the task, seeking assistance when needed, and taking responsibility for their contribution to the group breakfast are all important skills students will need to develop in preparation for roles in the broader community. Sitting down and sharing a meal together allows them to interact with their peers in a positive way, which is another important “soft skill” so necessary in the work environment.

The step-by-step sequence of all the skills used to prepare the breakfast can be repeated safely at home with parents to ensure students learn the task to fluency. Our hope is that these activities in the ADL room will support the student throughout life and help foster a greater level of independence in adulthood.

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