For high school students that are beginning the transition into adulthood, learning functional skills to encourage independent living is very important. In a life skills unit topics can range from money management, hygiene, shopping for groceries, cooking, doing laundry, and skills or a vocation needed to maintain a job. It is beneficial for these students to actually have experiences doing these different tasks in real-life scenarios.
One disadvantage to teaching these skills is that the students typically need to leave campus to experience these different daily activities. Depending on funding or other school district constraints, this can be a difficult to arrange. Luckily, there are technology programs that can teach these skills virtually using a variety of educational (and fun) software programs that are available.
PCI Education has many different programs for students to learn a variety of skills. They have an entire section of their website devoted to different special education books, games, activities, and software for all of the academic subject areas, as well as study, life, communication, behavioral, community, and critical thinking skills. Within the life skills section of the website, they offer over 80 different software-based learning programs.
A few of the programs I found interesting were the Banking Math, Where Does My Money Go, Survival Signs, and the Job Survival Software Series. Banking Math is a program for middle and high school students to learn everyday math and banking skills. Through role-playing, the students will conduct bank transactions, record transactions in a bank register, and perform everyday math problems like collecting a paycheck and paying to go to see a movie.
Where Does My Money Go is an interactive software program that teaches students about money handling, shopping skills, paying bills, and planning for unforeseen events (both good and bad).
Survival Signs is an intuitive program that teaches students about important signs in their communities and school. For example, stop signs, bus stops, and bathrooms.
The Job Survival Software Series is a package of programs that guides students through lessons on skills needed for the workplace, including appearance, attitude, following directions, attendance, literacy, and expectations. After the lessons, the students are required to answer questions based on the lessons.
PCI Education offers many different tools for teaching and learning with special education students. I would definitely suggest checking out their site!
Other Special Education Functional Skills Software Choices
Ed By Design is an Australian-based company that created functional skills software for special education. They offer software programs where students can learn about people, places, and activities through flashcards, sentence completion activities, and selecting symbols.
Cactus Kids is a company that offers computer learning and arcade-style games for students with physical disabilities. All of their activities use a system of switches, inputs similar to a mouse, but larger and with one function per switch, to make for easier input for students with physical disabilities. One of the programs, In Sequence – Daily Living Skills, teaches students about activities and their order of completion. Students have to select the images that break down the steps of completing everyday tasks like eating, brushing teeth, and locking a door, and then put the photos into the order in which the tasks should be completed.
Article by Laura Ketcham
Phot by Môsieur J. [version 3.0b]