Life-Changing Outcomes for Exceptional Kids

First Children School Vocational Program for High School Students

First Children School’s Vocational Program for high school students includes life skills, vocational skills, and occupation exploration.

Life Skills Lessons

Students in our vocational program practice important life skills that will enhance their experiences in their home and community. These skills promote confidence and engagement in everyday activities. Life skills are the building blocks of independence. Check out some examples below:

Cooking and Baking – Students learn about different tools in the kitchen, including adapted or modified equipment that can allow them to food prep more independently. We provide visual recipes so students have an easier time understanding the instructions. With these modifications, students learn to make their own meals, which can be done at home as well.

Cleaning and Organizing – Students are able to practice many core concepts of education when organizing toys, drawers, shelves, and other household spaces. This often allows them to reinforce sorting by size, shape, color, or function. They might also need to count the items while cleaning, or put them away alphabetically or via number or picture matching. We also use task checklists with step by step breakdowns for cleaning tasks such as washing the dishes, sweeping, or setting the table. The task check list enables the student to independently identify the materials needed to complete the task and what needs to be done for each step. Following this same routine allows them to become more comfortable in navigating the task independently, and this can be practiced in their home as well.

Signs and Symbols – An example of a community life skill would be identifying important signs and symbols in the neighborhood, such as crosswalk signs, red, yellow, and green lights, railroad crossings, hospital signs, exit signs, warning symbols such as poisonous, hazardous materials, and danger signs. Students practice identifying these signs and their meanings, and then move on to matching these signs with likely places to spot them, and how to proceed if they do.

Social Role Playing and Practice – Many of our students struggle with appropriate or effective socialization. We play games to practice peer interaction, role play community and workplace situations to discuss appropriate behavior or responses, and review and practice common community interactions such as making a purchase or ordering a meal. Students can then use these skills in their day to day activities.

 

Vocational Skills Lessons

Vocational skills encompass a wide range of competencies needed for employment, including core skills such as time management, organization and planning, effective communication, team work, positive attitude, and problem solving.

Many of our students need to practice these skills with the same enthusiasm that we have for career targeted tasks. Using the 16 career clusters as the base of our career curriculum, we work our way through the clusters and introduce students to many different potential employment areas. Each student develops their own “employment profile” which is a binder that consists of their own work, their reviews of work experiences, input from school staff, and a collection of career interest surveys, and long-term planning sheets that students complete throughout the year. The survey section helps to show areas that students have found interesting or maintained a consistent focus on.

The career clusters we review are:

  1. Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
  2. Architecture & Construction
  3. Arts, A/V Technology & Communications
  4. Business, Management & Administration
  5. Education & Training
  6. Finance
  7. Government & Public Administration
  8. Health Science
  9.  Hospitality & Tourism
  10. Human Services
  11. Information Technology
  12. Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
  13. Manufacturing
  14. Marketing, Sales & Service
  15. Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics
  16. Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Occupation Exploration

Our occupation exploration is based on the 16 recognized career clusters, and we introduce jobs in every area and complete activities related to those jobs.  We have extensive units on STEM careers, clerical work, gardening, retail and grocery, warehouse packaging, restaurant work, and cooking and baking.

Our occupation exploration units include field trips, visits from professionals, and mock career activities.  For example, with the police officer unit, we visit a police station and interview a police officer.  We then complete a lesson on what an officer does and what kinds of tools they would have including student learning activities to teach job functions such as fingerprinting, evidence collection, and interrogation using games like “Guess Who” to learn how to ask questions to identify different people and “I-Spy” to work on picking important things out of a scene.

Here is a typical plan for life skills trips, as well as job development.