Picking and choosing curriculums for your homeschool is a big task. It can be overwhelming. While this task is daunting when you are homeschooling typical children, for parents of children with special needs it can seem impossible.
I am required by law to teach Reading, Grammar, Math, Social Studies and Science. These are the bare minimums required for any child homeschooled in our state. Like most homeschooling parents, I strive each year to do more than that required bare minimum. ,This year finds my older daughter also doing geography, theme units, Religion, and French. For my twins with special needs, they too do theme units and Life Skills–Life skills as a curriculum subject.
Why include life skills?
How do you go about teaching life skills?
How do you document it?
Why include life skills
Kids need basic life skills. They 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 to 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. While you may decide one that you compose yourself is right for your family, there are also many good ones available through various therapy companies. The one I like for our homeschool (and I am not affiliated with them in any way nor have they paid me any money for this post and they did NOT provide my copies of this program; I purchased my own) is the BUILDING LIFE SKILLS PORTFOLIOS that are available through www.Attainmentcompany.com.
Life skills need to be taught in a hierarchial fashion so that the skills needed build upon each other until the end result is achieved. The BLSP system from Attainment Company gives you 10 plus steps for each life skill to work on with a criterion that once your child can do 7 of them, you can consider the goal, that life skill, met with an adequate degree of knowledge and skill. This 7 out of 10+ approach gives the parent and the child some choices in activities to utilize to best teach that skill according to what works best for that child.
How do you document it?
The BLSP books from Attainment company are great. They offer:
- a way to keep track and document your child’s skill level in over 200 life skills divided across 8 categories (Functional Academics, home, outdoors, recreation, health, communication, counting and World)…(25-40 life skills each category)
- They offer built in record keeping of when different steps/skills are mastered and this is a record that can go with them if they ever go back into a public school basic skills class or a private school.
Lastly, the book grows with your child. We are getting ready to start our third year using the same one for each boy. At this time, I see no reason why it will not continue to be utilized the next several years while we work on the various life skills it encompasses. It can grow with your child through to the adult years. This makes the $69 price tag very inviting. It also includes over 200 pages and CD with supplemental information.
While I do not love writing reviews, this was one curricula item I wanted to share as I know first hand how challenging it is to find curriculum for a child with special needs; and this portfolio works well for children in the mild-severe range.
To see this life skills portfolio book and view a pdf file of 12 pages, including samples and the entire table of contents, click here.
It is important that special needs homeschoolers receive a balanced education. Not all academics; not all lifeskills, but all parts working together to help your student become his/her best self. Our twin boys program consists of the 4 state mandated subjects, plus this BLS program, plus religion, and extra curriculars.
I wish you the best in finding the best curriculum for your special homeschoolers! I welcome all comments and am happy to discuss your special needs curriculum questions at firstname.lastname@example.org