The Benefits of Promoting Life Skills for Students with Special Needs - The Gateway School
promoting life skills

The Benefits of Promoting Life Skills for Students with Special Needs


What are life skills?

Life skills include a wide range of knowledge and skills that provide children with important tools to help them to handle daily tasks in their lives and develop into active and productive members of their communities. Life skills also serve the important function of preparing children to take action in situations where adults may not be around to help. Life skills are not innate, but can be learned and are a crucial part of education for children with special needs to prepare them for the day-to-day challenges of participating in their community and workplace, and feeling independent at home. These are “hands-on” and “multi-sensory” activities which increase the likelihood of learning the lessons to fluency.

learning life skills for special needs

The three major life skill areas are daily living, social skills, and occupational skills.

Daily Living Skills

Daily living skills encompass various tasks needed for independent adult living.

  • Handling money: counting money, shopping, paying bills, and managing a bank account
  • Housekeeping: performing housekeeping and home maintenance tasks
  • Self-care: performing proper grooming and hygiene, washing and storing clothing 
  • Safety awareness: identifying danger and respecting emergency procedures
  • Meal preparation: buying and storing food, preparing meals, and demonstrating appropriate eating habits.

Social Skills

Social skills allow individuals to get along with others and participate in society. 

  • Self-awareness: identifying emotions, needs, and appropriate methods to deal with stress.
  • Social responsibility: demonstrating appropriate behavior and respect towards others, recognizing authority, and following instructions. 
  • Travel: getting around the community and following travel safety procedures.
  • Solving problems: recognizing difficulties and seeking assistance
  • Communicating: speaking, listening, and responding appropriately to others

Occupational Skills

These skills prepare students for meaningful work to their highest potential. 

  • Appropriate work habits: maintaining punctuality and regular attendance, following directions and observing regulations, helping others.
  • Job-seeking: identifying requirements of appropriate jobs, investigating local occupational opportunities, applying and interviewing for jobs. 
  • Occupational skills: job training and vocational education.

At Gateway School, our life skills program includes functional living skills instruction such as self-care, personal hygiene, laundry, cooking, and cleaning. Students also receive social skills instruction through individual and group activities, as well as community-based instruction. Staff accompanies students into the community to practice appropriate social interaction at the local library, parks, supermarkets, and other public spaces. This allows students to generalize skills learned in school out into the real world in typical neighborhood environments. Students are also afforded the opportunity to sample vocational tasks at various local job sites to gain experience and exposure to different careers.

Not every special needs child will accomplish perfect mastery of all of these life skills, but it pays to give children practice in as many life skills as are appropriate for their abilities. Teaching the whole child about healthy relationships, gaining confidence and self-esteem, and appropriate everyday social behavior has benefits for every student.

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