Recommendations for High School Life Skills

Today, I’d like to talk about some very cool people- high school students! Yes, high schoolers are some of the coolest people on the planet. For the most part, you can have great conversations with them, and their interests, hopes, and dreams for post-high school are so much fun to hear about. However, some high school students will need some extra help in school to be able to master some “adulting” skills- aka, life skills! These life skills will help these students gain employment, possibly live independently, travel, utilize community resources, hang out with friends, and do other things that other young adults like to do. 

What Are Life Skills? 

Life skills can be taught as part of special education. This type of instruction combines functional academics, daily living skills, vocational skills, and interpersonal skills. This teaches students how to live, socialize, and work in the community. 

Life skills include a variety of activities from the following categories: 

  • Self-care skills/hygiene 
  • Vocational skills​/ work-appropriate behavior
  • Daily living skills
  • Community skills
  • Leisure and recreational skills​
  • Functional reading
  • Functional math​
  • Shopping skills
  • Cooking and laundry skills

These skills are necessary for all teenagers to learn in order to eventually become independent adults. However, some students need to have much more explicit instruction in each step of the tasks that fall into these categories in order to have independence in the future. 

While life skills instruction is important for all high school students, a small percentage need explicit instruction in areas that come more naturally to students without special needs. Students most likely in need of life skills instruction in school include students with intellectual disabilities and some students who are on the autism spectrum. Most of these students are earning a high school certificate of completion or alternate diploma and participate in alternate assessments instead of state testing. 

How Can SLPs Help with Life Skills? 

There are a lot of ways that SLPs can help students to practice life skills. Let’s break down what we can do to simulate some essential life skills situations. 

  • Going to a doctor’s appointment. We can work with our students on basic medical vocabulary. This will help them to understand better what a medical professional is telling them. We can also use pictures of common ailments to help our students form sentences that will help them express how they feel to a medical professional. This scenario can help students practice “wh” questions, and articulation with medical words like “temperature”, “hurt”, and different parts of the body. 

  • Going to the grocery store falls into the categories of daily living skills and shopping skills. We can role-play with a student how to ask where an item is located in the store. We can also role-play the checkout process so that students can have an idea of what conversations are like in these settings, which can help to practice social skills. Students can work on articulation with common grocery store words like “milk”, “produce”, “deli”, “bakery”, and more. We can also work on asking “wh” questions and categorization by types of food. This type of role-play scenario also requires functional math and functional reading.  

  • Safety in buildings and in the community falls into the category of community skills. We can work with students on how to locate and read exit signs and safety signs in buildings. We can also review safety signs and signals in the community, such as signs for crosswalks, evacuation signs, and signs for community resources like fire and police stations. 

  • Going to work falls into the life skills category of vocational skills​/ work-appropriate behavior. We can role-play with students how to communicate with supervisors and co-workers, and how to report issues or ask questions in a work setting. We can also role-play and review how to follow directions in the workplace. This develops social skills. We can also work on vocabulary pertaining to jobs that the student is interested in. 

  • Self-care skills and hygiene can also be practiced in the speech room by identifying hygiene products such as deodorant, shampoo, and toothpaste, as well as clothing items needed for different types of weather. Students can work on sequencing by articulating the steps to brushing teeth or the steps to getting dressed. They can answer “wh” questions when choosing pictures of clothing appropriate to the weather outside. 

  • Cooking and laundry skills can be practiced in the speech room, as well. Students can plan meals and write a simple shopping list, as well as categorize foods. They can answer “Wh” questions about the labels on clothing that direct the owner on how to wash it. 

There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to working on life skills with high school students! Be sure to take their interests and transition goals into consideration when planning instruction. And if you need some more ideas, check out my Life Skills bundle for your high schoolers!