While it is often taken for granted, the importance of being organized cannot be overstated, especially for individuals with special needs who may face additional challenges in managing their time, belongings, and responsibilities. When it comes to teaching executive functioning skills, teaching organization becomes an essential task that aims to empower life skills students with the tools they need to thrive in both school and beyond. By providing them with practical strategies and support systems tailored to their unique needs, we can help our students unlock their full potential and enhance their overall quality of life. Read more about teaching organizational skills to life skills students.
When I started teaching in the Activities of Daily Living class last year, I began with organization. We had limited furniture, but I made it a point to teach my students using the furniture and items we did have. This helped set routines and expectations in the classroom. You may not have a fully furnished life skills room, complete with a full working kitchen or life-like living area. However, there are plenty of ways to build in organizational skills in to classroom routines and instruction.
Label, Label, Label
Having a designated space for everything is going to be the cornerstone of keeping an area organized. What furniture I did have, I made sure to organize it in a way that made sense. I began with teaching my students to follow labels and ultimately, I gave them opportunities to categorize items and label spaces in our classroom. Having a change to use their organizational skills and create an organize space really made a difference.
Once I had an area organized, I would made sure to take a photo of the area and hang it up on a binder ring close to the area. I uploaded this visual template to The Resource Vault if you are interested in using a template. I used something similar in my classroom to organize places like our leisure shelf and kitchen cabinets. This makes it super easy for even non-readers to know exactly where everything goes in an area.
Use a Rubric
I made this organization rubrics for my life skills students this year to evaluate whether a space was organized. This helped them understand the criteria for an organized space, while also working on the important executive functioning skill of self-monitoring. When you sign up for the Life is a Classroom newsletter, this and other life skills resource are available free in The Resource Vault.
It’s crucial to teach organizational skills to our life skills students. Make sure you have solid organization and routines in your classroom, whether you are teaching a life skills class like me, or you are teaching in a more academic setting. These skills can transcend in to so many areas of life, from organizing a living space, keeping materials at work tidy, or even keeping a backpack organized.
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