The Importance of Teaching Life Skills in Special Education
by Ryan Genoy | November 16, 2021
Achieving independence is one of the cornerstones of our existence and teaching life skills that promote this individuality should be an integral part of the special education system, not an afterthought.
One of the most important jobs parents and caretakers face when raising children is to teach them how to become independent adults that possess all the life skills necessary to become successful and contributing members of society. Throughout a child’s development parents progressively impart knowledge upon them in order to encourage eventual independence through the cultivation of life skills and the ability to impart them in society. At times, this can be a challenging feat for parents due to a multitude of different reasons including recognizing when it is the right time to teach certain skills and realizing what cues your child responds to. In addition to parents and caretakers, school teachers also bear a large portion of the responsibility as it pertains to a child’s development with regard to life skills.
Children spend more awake hours in school than they do at home. It’s almost as if you are creating their worlds.” – Jennah Schuh
In an article discussing the importance of educators’ responsibilities in the lives of the students they teach, Principal Jennah Schuh, an educator at ASHAR in New York, explains to readers that educators and the school system play a large role in the development of children and their future ability to contribute to society.
For those responsible for imparting these impactful lessons upon the next generation of contributing members of society, the task of teaching important life skills can be challenging, but in the sphere of special education, it is crucial to the success of unique learners and our society.
The reason why emphasizing teaching life skills to children with differing abilities is so crucial is because in many cases, these students require additional and/or different forms of education and attention than students within the general education system. Students within the special education sphere have limitless potential; however, if they are not provided with the proper individualized education that their differing abilities entail, the life skills that are necessary for their success many times go overlooked. As Joan Goodship shares in her digest, Life Skills for Students with Special Needs:
Several million individuals with learning problems are still denied the opportunity to engage in meaningful employment in the United States. Large numbers of students with disabilities, both high school graduates and dropouts, earn very low salaries (Edgar, 1988). These students do possess the potential to live and work in the community if they receive appropriate life skills instruction (Rusch & Phelps, 1987). A life skills curriculum approach blends academic, daily living, personal/social, and occupational skills into integrated lessons designed to help students learn to function independently in society.”
Since in many cases these students spend more time in school than they do at home, it is essential to provide students with special needs an education that incorporates the three major life skills categories, including daily living skills, social skills, and occupational skills. However, the successful implementation of this kind of curriculum is much easier said than done.
In school districts with thousands of students, the ability for a special education teacher to provide each student with an individualized education experience that extends beyond the set curriculum and promotes real-life skills is extremely difficult. And to make things even more challenging, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided yet another barrier for special needs students to receive the individualized attention and education that they need to thrive in society.
“That really led to this whole cascading nightmare where many school districts felt they didn’t need to provide everything if they couldn’t do it in person, and they didn’t need to provide services for the same amount of time or in the same way. And unfortunately, many schools provided very little in terms of special education.” – Melinda Macht-Greenberg
This feedback that Melinda Macht-Greenberg, a school psychologist, received from parents and teachers while working at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School depicts the growing concerns within the greater special education community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has magnified the pain points that the special education community already faces and has further raised the concerns of teachers and parents calling for more assistance in providing a more accessible and individualized education experience for students.
Digital Education Resources
School districts and teachers have begun to turn to digital resources to assist with bringing an individualized education experience to the classroom. Other resources schools are using include platforms such as ClassDojo, Mystery Science, and N2Y which each respectively emphasize one aspect of education, such as providing an engaging way to learn the special education curriculum in N2Y’s case. These platforms have provided crucial assistance for teachers and students, especially in the special education sphere, which has been particularly magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, in addition to these platforms that address aspects of education including reading and science, FrenalyticsEDU has offered a much-needed solution for a life skills education that is critical to the development and success of students in the special education sphere.
FrenalyticsEDU makes personalized life skills lessons easy for teachers and fun for students. Plus, since FrenalyticsEDU doesn’t require any special downloads, students can use their computer, tablet, or smartphone to participate in learning sessions anywhere, anytime.
“It’s so life-skilled based and there is not a lot of programming out there for it … just because we go back into the classroom doesn’t mean we won’t still be doing it.” – Jen Gentile
In one of our Teacher Features, Jen, a special education teacher at Escondido High School, describes the necessity of FrenalyticsEDU in the classroom due to the nature of the platform’s ability to teach life skills in a way that is individualized and easy to use for students.
FrenalyticsEDU is loved by students in special ed schools from kindergarten all the way through high school. We are the first comprehensive and interactive software platform to streamline life skills learning within special education, including enrolling students, managing transitions, and reporting outcomes. Our team at Frenalytics works extensively with educators to craft a one-of-a-kind software platform that helps students live more independent lives while saving time and money for parents and schools.