If you are looking for new ways to help your teen students learn the job readiness and life skills they need to succeed, we wanted to share a great example of a transition program, STEP, housed at Meeker and Wright Special Education Cooperative in Howard Lake, MN.
Take a STEP!
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step.” This quote by author, Naeem Callaway, sums up the purpose of the transition program housed at Meeker and Wright Special Education Cooperative in Howard Lake, MN. The program, serving students with disabilities ages 18-21, focuses learning on independent living skills for teens and teaching employability skills to build independence for adult life one step at a time. How does the STEP (Students Transitioning in Educational Programming) Program do this? Read on…
STEP offers fantastic opportunities for transition aged learners to increase employment skills including soft skills. Lessons on these subjects are taught during the students’ school day, but that instruction is always taken a bit further. Teachers develop volunteer opportunities within the community to provide authentic learning for the students. The students have “worked” or volunteered at the food shelf stocking shelves and filling lunch bags. They interact with children at Head Start helping with coats and boots and playing with the children. How fun is that?! Students have had the chance to make sandwiches for the homeless and mentor children at-risk. Their work skills have been developed by cleaning and recycling at their own school and other area schools. These are engaging and real ways to increase employability in students with disabilities. Just plain awesome!
In addition to building job skills, the STEP Program works hard to increase the level of independent living skills (life skills) in their students. This is accomplished through a variety of fun activities. Students at STEP get the chance to plan meals for their peers. They invite others, shop, cook and work together to clean up after the meal. Food, friends and fun?! Of course this works! They even plan a Thanksgiving meal and invite staff from around the building! Students also work on budgeting through participation in “The Game of Life.” They receive a dollar amount (no, not real money) every day they attend STEP. They also get bills for rent, utilities, groceries and household supplies. Students must “pay” their bills on time or incur late fees JUST LIKE REAL LIFE. They work on other independent living skills include laundry, cleaning, organizing and interacting with others. Last, but not least, students learn skills by planning a Fun Friday in their home community. Some of these outings include bowling, eating at a favorite restaurant, archery and even thrift shopping. Who wouldn’t enjoy a Friday like that?!
The STEP program provides amazing learning opportunities to their students to increase the likelihood of success in adult life. Whether these students take giant steps or just tiptoe, it’s a step nonetheless.
Teaching life skills and executive skills are becoming a focal point for many educational professionals, as students are showing deficits in basic organizational, emotional, and cognitive processes. Learn how to assess, intervene, and adapt to help all students to be successful by enrolling in Learners Edge Course 5847: Learning to Learn: Student Skills for School and for Life.