Monday, March 5

Lifetime (Emeli Sande)

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Life Skills as a Curriculum Subject

Picking and choosing curriculum for your homeschool can be an overwhelming task for parents of typical children.  For parents of children with special needs, it can seem impossible.

I am required to teach the minimum : Reading, Grammar, Math, Social Studies and Science.  Like most homeschooling parents, I strive each year to do more than the minimum. For my twins with special needs, they do additional theme units and Life Skills – for them, life skills as a curriculum subject. 

Why include life skills?
Kids need to be able to independently do for themselves as much as they can. Just as a regular school IEP is the plan by which a child can achieve his highest level of success with the least amount of assistance, so too does a curriculum and life skills plan for a child with special needs being schooled in the home become a framework for reaching improved independence and success.   Homeschooling allows me to teach them the basics, in their best learning method (visual, auditory, kinesthetic), and focus on the skills they need to become their best selves. We include life skills as a part of their curriculum to help the boys reach their highest level of success. It does not take the place of any academics, but is given a place of priority equal to academics.

How do you go about teaching life skills and how do you document it?
When embarking on teaching life skills as part of your curriculum, it is important to follow a plan. Life skills need to be taught as building blocks, so that the skills needed build upon each other until the end result is achieved.  While you may decide to use a curriculum that you compose yourself, there are also many good ones available through various therapy companies. 

The one I chose for our homeschool is the “Building Life Skills Portfolios.”  There are other good programs, too, including the series by Darlene Mannix, Skills Activities for secondary schoolers, and Life Skills for elementary aged students.
It is important that special needs homeschoolers receive a balanced education. Not all academics and not all life skills, but all parts working together to help your student become his/her best self.  Our twin boys’ program consists of the state mandated subjects, plus this program, religion, and extracurriculars.

Katie is a Jane Austen fan who has been married to her own Mr. Darcy for almost 15 years. She is Catholic, a Waldorf inspired homeschooler, a pediatric speech-language pathologist, and a mom to 5 children, including twins with special needs due to birth trauma.  You can follow her homeschooling adventures at My Sweet Homeschool where she offers encouragement, practical information, and the weekly Sunday Stitch Along. Currently, she and her husband are turning their home with good bones on a one acre propery into their own French Pemberley. You can follow their  house and property renovations at the French Pemberley Blog.  You can also follow her on PinterestTwitter, and Facebook.

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