Teaching independent life skills gives people the expertise to take control of their life. Self-care skills, home management, money management and employment broadly make up the variety of independent life skills. Not only will you learn to take control of your life, but you will also improve communication skills and build a social network if taught appropriately.
Form a team of about two to five people who are important to the learner. The individual must trust everyone on the team. Each team member must provide dignity and respect at all times to ensure maximum cooperation and learning.
Determine the strengths and needs of the person learning life skills. In what areas does the individual excel? Where does the person need improvement? A good rule to follow is to document two strengths for every weakness that is found.
Develop a personal history to focus on the individual. The best people to help with this task are family members. Find out what is important to the person and how he envisions his life.
Write a reasonable list of skills that could be taught over a period of one year. Prioritize the skills according to what is most important to the individual to learn.
Write goals and objectives so everyone on the team is aware of what will be taught. The goals should be somewhat broad subjects. For example -- the individual will learn how to operate a microwave. This is a goal that may need to be broken down into objectives such as opening and closing the microwave, and using the keypad to adjust cooking time. Teach one simple step at a time to create more effective and lasting success.
Teach each skill in the actual environment where it is used. If you are teaching street crossings, do not waste time practicing mock street crossings in a classroom. Use a real street crossing, but start out with total support of the learner and gradually fade instruction as the skill is mastered.
Give constructive feedback to the person learning the new skills. Include specific areas that need improvement, and comment on what he did well.
Document the learner's progress and keep other team members informed of his performance.
Review the progress made after about a year of working on the determined skills. Some skills may be mastered at this point, while other skills could need more instruction and support before the person can perform them independently.
Write new or modified goals and objectives to work on for the next year.
--Do not waste time teaching skills that are not applicable in the person's life.
--Avoid teaching skills only because they are important to the instructor. However, if the instructor feels a specific skill that is not on the list is important, make a note and revisit the task later.
--Independent living skills should be taught as naturally as possible in real and practical environments.
--Model each skill in real-life applications.
--Develop a social network where the learner can communicate with other peers.
- Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired: It takes a team to teach independent living skills
- Mountain State Centers for Independent Living: Independent Living Skills Development
- Bright Hub: Ideas for Independent Living Skills Lessons for Students with Disabilities
- Autism Support Network: Teaching Independent Living Skills
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