What we mean when we say "life skills."

August 09, 2019

8.1.19 Self care is life sustaining.

Think about this. What happens to your teeth if you don’t brush them? What happens to your overall health and wellbeing if you can’t wash yourself, or if you need others to do it for you. What is better for everyone – dependent care or self-care?

We have children that can learn to care for themselves. While every student may be learning at an individual pace and with differing methods, it’s important that we are helping each to care for themselves to their best abilities. Being the most able to care for ourselves is what leads to being the most independent and successful in lives.

Which is why many students are working on activities of daily living – self-care skills – at school in addition to at home. Step-by-step is the way instruction is led here at Crossroads, so teachers and therapists provide the appropriate amount and manner of prompting and support as is currently needed, always encouraging and reinforcing the most independence possible.

Here are some of our students in the school-age program classrooms 12 and 13 who were happy to share their growing independence with you!

 


4.18.19  What are life skills?

Life skills are the ones that help a person be independent in life. Being able to take care of one’s self in life is pretty important. While our society is set up to provide help when it is needed, it’s part of our mission at Crossroads Center for Children to help our children become as self-reliant in life as they are capable of.  So, for our youngsters, life skills are taught and practiced as part of the day.

What skills are needed for living might differ according to time and place, but there are several that are essential and practiced daily for most persons in this time and place that we share generationally and in our corner of the world. Lots of these skills are targeted by our Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapist, and Speech Therapists. Behavior Analysts and Behavior Technicians and Special Education Teachers and Teaching Assistants in every classroom from preschool to school age, work on life skills too.

Self-care skills are life skills :

  • Toileting self
  • Brushing teeth
  • Washing and drying face
  • Washing and drying hands
  • Dressing self
  • Dressing appropriately for weather
  • Food preparation
  • Nutrition and health
  • Feeding self
  • Daily routines such as unpacking backpacks

This is probably the biggest area for teaching at Crossroads due the ages and needs of our students, so this area of the article has the most attention. Teachers and therapists at our school note that some students have learned using a visual schedule while others utilize full physical prompting, prompting which will be faded as a child grasps steps of the process.

Like other skills, life skills are taught according to where the child is currently functioning. By establishing child’s “baseline”, always based on data, the student’s team can develop a plan that helps the child learn the skill according to his or her individual learning needs. So while one student may be learning to complete some of the steps of a process using a task analysis, might use personal or video modeling to learn what to do. Prompting is faded as a child achieves steps of the process. 

The goal is always established according to the individual child and what activities he or she needs to function meaningfully and independently in his or her environment.

While “A” might be working on one step of the process, “B” might have mastered that one, and is onto the next.

For example, the process of washing hands can look like this:

  1. Go to sink.

2. Turn on water.

3.Wet hands.

4. Get soap.

5. Rub hands together.

6. Wet hands.

7. Turn off water.

Drying hands:

  1. Get paper towel.
  2. Rub hands on towel – get fronts and backs.
  3. Rub hands again.
  4. Throw towel away.

While one student is learning the step of turn on water, his classmate who is independent in that step is learning to get soap without a prompt. While one child is learning to get paper towel, her friend is learning to throw away her towel and wait for the teacher.

Safety skills are life skills:

 

It’s important for children to learn to protect themselves from danger and illness. Commonly taught skills at Crossroads include youngsters to look both ways before crossing a street, to recognize traffic signs, to wear sunscreen and to cover their coughs and sneezes.

Job skills are life skills:

As children grow, they are more able to also learn job skills. Job skills are important for independence in life.

Skills that are needed for job success include social skills and communication skills, attending and following directions. It’s also important to learn to attend to tasks to completion, and report back to a supervisor. Many of our classrooms have “classroom jobs” to provide opportunities for learning responsibilities and capabilities that are aligned with future job success. Responsibilities such as line leader, paper passer and calendar helper are great ways to address job skills in the classroom. At home, parents teach their children to set the table, empty the dryer, feed the dog, and make their bed.

Job skills are important so that our students will someday be able to work. At our school, job skills commonly worked on include cleaning up after ourselves, gathering materials for a group, delivering mail, shredding, watering plants, feeding fish, sharpening pencils, making copies, wiping the table after snack, washing dishes, and running the washer and dryer for some of our older students. You can see that skills such as these are important in life and can be incorporated into school routines at the level of the children.

 

In our classrooms, the specific jobs that kids are learning are going to help them function independently both in their homes and in jobs in the future. Along the way they learn to open the door for self and others, find their name in an array, and interact with people outside of the classroom. 

By working on life skills daily as a class, children are able to model teachers and each-other and gain positive reinforcement and correction for their performance.

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What life skills do you think are important? Leave us a comment! We love hearing from our readers! 

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