The Vocational Program led by our BCBA runs from 11.30 to 2.00pm and focuses on increasing independence of children and young adults in areas of daily living, social skills, self-care, job exposure… The program also provides training of underlying skills required for successful engagement in daily activities such as fine motor, visual motor, physical activity and gross motor skills. Weekly community trips target community access and participation skills by teaching children how to use and interact in restaurants, stores, parks, events and other typical community activities.ob
Activities of Daily Living:
We believe that regardless of functioning level or age, it is important for all students to learn independent living skills. These lessons are integrated into more traditional subjects during the school day, with learned skills ranging from folding laundry to cooking nutritious meals.
Younger students start learning independent living skills through managing their workspaces and participating in classroom jobs, which set a solid knowledge base needed for progressing to larger tasks such as cleaning their bedrooms. Students are responsible for the upkeep of their classroom. Moreover, students also participate in regular cooking activities that teach basic techniques, kitchen safety, and appropriate use of equipment and appliances.
Older students continue to build on their knowledge base with activities becoming more advanced and skills being covered in more depth. Onsite responsibilities continue and also become more difficult in nature whereby the responsibility of the student expands from classroom upkeep to other areas of the school. Lessons start covering more in-depth living skills, including laundry tasks, washing dishes, and properly making a bed. Students also learn safety on the Internet and at home and how to react to common emergencies, such as fires.
One major component of independent living is hygiene. All students in MAE will work on developing their daily hygiene routines. Some students will work to enhance the daily routine they use at home while others will learn about the importance of hygiene and dressing neatly in a classroom setting. Students in older grades learn about medical care and first aid. Regardless of age or program, all students will strengthen their ability to look their best and take care of their bodies.
- Money Management:
Managing one’s own money is vital to independence. Throughout their academic year, all students at the center work in their math lessons, as well as their life skills and career development classes on money identification and planning their finances and also, have many opportunities to apply the learned skills in the community.
Students work on understanding the concept of money and the values and the identification of each denomination. They build their money-related vocabulary by participating in classroom and community-based activities. They also work on the addition and subtraction of money, rounding (for the purposes of checking for the correct change), and the process of making a purchase. Students also are introduced to the concept of budgeting by following a daily budget and a special budget when on community-based trips.
Students also study money management by creating and following a weekly and monthly budget for purchases they are to make in the center’s shop. Students continue to strengthen their comparative shopping ability, learn about the physical processes of banking, and learn about credit. MAE students also spend a lot of time in the community by applying the skills they have built over the years and generalizing them to a variety of environments
- Travel Training:
As part of their independent living skills programming, all students learn about different modes of transportation and how to utilize them appropriately, a process which grows steadily as they become more advanced. For example, students will learn how to interpret bus and train schedules, related vocabulary and how to behave appropriately while using transportation.
All students enrolled in the full day or vocational program participate in Social Skill Classes that are built into their schedule. The content varies by age and program but the overall goal is to provide the students with the skills they need to make friends and have meaningful relationships. Students participate in a variety of activities that includes modeling and role-playing.
- Social Games:
Students come together and participate in a variety of games, ranging from video games to indoor activities where students compete against each other, learn sportsmanship and teamwork skills and make connections that foster and build social skills in a variety of settings.
- Onsite Events:
Throughout the year, Modern Alternative Education participates in a variety of onsite events that foster social skills and allow the students to experience non-academic related content. These events include sports, dancing, cultural celebrations, science fairs, holiday celebrations and various other activities. These events allow the students to work together as a school community, and to interact with their friends from the center and outside visitors in an appropriate and independent manner. These events also give the students an opportunity to build self-esteem, learn about different cultures and have fun in the process.
- Community Events:
All of the students enrolled in the full day or vocational program will spend a significant amount of time in the community each month by going on field trips, visiting the malls, supermarkets, concerts and public events. The goals of these experiences vary with age and program but the overall goal is to make sure our students are comfortable and safe in the community.
Students use the community to learn how to behave and interact appropriately. Skills such as waiting to take one’s turn, and greeting others are strengthened while the students are exposed to different public locations like malls, plays, or restaurants. Other skills are also covered, such as community safety and sign recognition, which sets a solid foundation for continued skill development as the students’ age.
More advanced students work on their independent navigation, orientation ability, and retail awareness. They also work on entry-level money management by participating in shopping and dining trips that require them to budget their money so that they can purchase what they need.
The focus of job exposure is to allow the students to learn, observe, and experience many of the careers that are available to them in their communities. This is a very important part of the Vocational Curriculum as exposure and understanding of different careers is crucial to making informed career decisions. This exposure is done through an in-class curriculum, vocational tours, and job sampling.
We also work with students of all ages to allow them to learn skills that are specific to a career they want to pursue when they get older. This preparation could include teaching someone interested in a culinary field specific cutting and cooking techniques to someone interested in computer programming a programming language. This is not a program or age-specific offering and is individualized and offered to students for whom it is appropriate.