Way back in 1983, I had the privilege of beginning my career in special education at the Devereux Foundation. The teens that I taught lived and learned in a residential setting. They were dually diagnosed as intellectually challenged and emotionally disturbed. My job was to teach them "functional academics". I taught them money, time, reading, community signs, letter writing, grocery shopping, how to use a laundromat and vending machines. My students learned how to read and order from a menu. They learned how to read a grocery circular and how to subtract coupons from their total bill. They learned how to write checks and balance a checkbook. My friend and co-worker, Miss Angie, taught them "home economics" which included reading recipes and cooking. Miss Angie's students learned how to measure with cups and spoons. The students learned how to do laundry and how to fold it. Miss Angie taught the students how to clean their home. She taught them personal hygiene too. Every Tuesday and Friday Miss Angie and I would take a small group of students out into the community to places like the post office, grocery store, laundromat, different types of restaurants, and different types of shopping establishments. We always worked on proper social skills and good manners. Miss Angie and I were preparing our students for adult life. In our small school , where our twenty-eight students switched classes, we also had a workshop teacher, woodworking teacher, an art teacher, and a physical education teacher. After leaving The Devereux Foundation, many of the students went on to live in group homes. They needed skills to live as independently as possible.
I think that "Life skills are valuable skills for most students not just special needs students. The first phone call that I received from my daughter at college was her worrying that she'd ruin her clothes in the public washing machine and dryer! With common core and higher stakes testing students don't have the time to learn all of these essential life skills during a rich academic school day. Families are busy and while most do teach their children essential skills and behaviors for life, students still may benefit from at least an elective course that prepares them for real world living. I currently teach one life skills class every day. In many ways this is the most valuable course that I teach.
Daily Parent Links:
Life Lessons for Kids and Teens: 5 Skills Every Child Needs to Learn
Daily Educator Link:
Daily Living and Cooking Activities
Children's Book Review:
Tonight's book review pick, is: The Girl Who Loved Caterpillars, adapted by: Jean Merrill. When my oldest daughter, Kirsten, was young, she was the caterpillar girl! She loved nature and animals and anything to do with either of these! She was an early and voracious reader so I was always searching for books to sooth her precocious soul!
This Japanese tale was thought to have been written in the twelfth century during the Heian period. The original author is unknown the original story was found on a scroll. It's a story of a young, Japanese girl who loved caterpillars. It's a rich story set in ancient Japan during the time of the Emperor's court in Kyoto. This is not a book for every child, but for those who enjoy a sense of culture combined with the depth of long ago, it is a nice story. It may also make a nice accompaniment to a world history or literature lesson.
The illustrations painted by Floyd Cooper, are done in soft-oil. They give the book a more cultural sense of long ago.