Life Skills (LS) classes are designed to meet the needs of students whose intellectual, developmental and academic levels are so delayed that participation in the general education program, even with modifications and accommodations is unfeasible. The focus of the LS program is to teach functional skills in academics, daily living, vocational, recreation/leisure and community participation for students of all ages, at their individual ability levels.
Instructional lessons in the classroom will be rigorous and reflect appropriate grade-level TEKS through the use of essence statements and prerequisite skills, as well as skills needed for life after public school. The students will be actively engaged in learning throughout the school day and the teacher will collect data on each student’s progress. The data will be used to plan lessons, to create the next IEP, and to determine the need for Extended Year Services. The classroom activities will be functional and age-appropriate, and will change to meet the needs of the student. Classroom instruction will include individual, small group and community-based experiences.
Students who participate in Life Skills classes will also have access to all activities available to non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible. Such activities include grade level field trips, assemblies, lunch, etc. All elementary LS students will have one general education, age-appropriate classroom for a period of the day, and secondary students may participate in general education classes, such as electives, if appropriate.
Some LS students will have behavior problems which require Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs). These plans will be developed individually at ARD/IEP meetings, using the information from the Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA). Data will be collected in the classroom and reviewed periodically to determine if changes in the BIP are needed. The LS classroom will have general rules posted and the classroom structure will include positive behavior supports. Some students will benefit from an individualized reinforcement system that will be developed and implemented, as needed. Teachers and teaching assistants in the LS class will be trained in CPI, and will use the strategies when necessary.
Transition planning for life after public school will be a part of the LS students’ program. Formal planning in the IEP is required to be addressed during the child’s 6th grade year in JISD, but it may be included earlier. Vocational instruction, an integral part of transition, should begin in elementary school with age appropriate tasks that establish good work habits.
Community-Based Instruction (CBI) is also an integral part of the LS curriculum. CBIs begin in elementary school and continue, regularly, throughout the student’s school years. CBI instruction incorporates IEP goals/objectives into lessons that are implemented outside of the school environment, providing experiences that will prepare students for tasks in the community. Some appropriate experiences may include riding the bus, shopping at the grocery store, visiting a museum, traveling to a doctor’s office, making a small purchase at a store, etc.
The placement of a student in a Life Skills class must be determined by ARD/IEP action and the goals/objectives must reflect an emphasis on functional skills at the individual student’s present level of ability.