Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Importance of Life Skills

 This is a post I shared awhile back over at on the community forum but I thought it might be a good idea to show what other things we do in our homeschool in addition to the 3 R's and homeschool socialstudies!

Lets face it. Life skills are something that is important for everyone to learn. I personally think they are especially important though, for children who have special needs. I have a teenage son who has multiple special needs and I will admit, when he was younger it was sometimes much easier (and faster!) at times, to do too much for him. When he was younger we had numerous doctor and therapy appointments and spent a lot of our time in the car. Add in the fact that I was tired with two children close in age, so in order to make it to the appointments on time I just did a lot of it myself.

As the appointments decreased we had more time, and with the help of my son's physical and occupational therapist, I was on the way to helping my son become more independent. I will NEVER forget the day my son learned to tie his shoes! We were in our car on the way home from a weekend trip and I had both kids in the backseat practicing. (obviously my husband was driving) Amazingly, they both learned to tie their shoes on that trip. Now, there was some frustration at first as he could not do it the "typical way". So...I taught both of them to tie a bow using the bunny ears method and that is still how they do it! Sometimes skills must be modified specifically to your child's individual needs.

I guess the key is finding out what is reasonable to expect from them because having them get overly frustrated is a good way for them to completely shut down and not want to try. Talking to your child's occupational or physical therapist is a good way or talking to other parents of special needs children that have been through it before. So many big skills have little skills before them, that need to be achieved first.

My son will very likely need to have some degree of care for his entire life. This can at times be a daunting thought but a proactive way of dealing with it is to help him develop as much independence as possible. With all of our children, whether they have extra challenges or not, we want to assist them in achieving their own personal best. I believe that homeschooling is the ideal environment to help a child with extra needs do just that!

I found a great lifeskills chart on Pinterest that lists by age level different appropriate skills for a child to learn. As any special needs parent can tell you our kids do not necessarily learn these skills at the same time as a typically developing child. Still, it is a good list to tailor to your own child. Other skills might not be appropriate too. My son has Prader-Willi Syndrome and some of the food related skills have to be limited or highly supervised. I truly think you are an expert on your own child though, so as your child matures you will be able to determine what skills they need to learn to achieve their personal best.

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