A school in Arizona is doing something really interesting in order to help students who are in the special needs program to learn much needed skills. They have created a school store where other students can purchase inexpensive and interesting school supplies. This is a great opportunity for kids to practice socials skills and to learn life skills.
Kids who have certain kinds of special needs, (such as ADHD, or an autism spectrum disorder), struggle with social skills. Many special needs programs will include lessons on the proper way to respond to certain social situations, as well as a way to practice those skills. The intentions behind these types of lessons are good. However, the reality is that social skills that are practiced within a closed, safe, classroom environment are not always something that a child will understand how to adapt to a real world experience with his or her peers.
It can be extremely difficult for teachers to encourage their students to practice social skills with students who are not a part of the special needs program, when the school is outside for recess. The special education program at a school in Arizona has come up with a unique, and brilliant, solution to the problem. They used a grant of $1,864 to create a school store. The items that are sold at the store will generate enough income to make the grant money become a self sustaining program.
Students who have special needs “work” at the school store during recess. Each one has a very specific job. One student “rings up” purchases and makes change. Another puts the items into a bag for the customer to take with them. Another job involves stocking the store and making sure there are plenty of items accessible for customers to browse through.
One student acts as “Security” by making sure that the students who are waiting in line to be able to do some shopping are not causing problems. The “Security” job also involves kicking out students who shoplift (if the situation happens), and acting as a Greeter. Other kids are hired to answer customers questions about products.
Items include everything from fun shaped erasers, to glittery notebooks, to packages of stickers. There are colorful pencils and small, decorative, notepads. Students pay anywhere from ten cents to around $1.50 for these items. The customers are comprised mostly of students who are not from the special needs classes, but from the larger, “typical” student population.
Having a job at the school store requires the students who have special needs to practice appropriate social interaction with children who are of a similar age to them. Some of the students in the program are hearing impaired, have learning disabilities, or cognitive disabilities. Working at the store also requires students to use their math skills.
Another great thing about the school store is that it is a fun way to teach job skills. The individual tasks that students do at the school store are similar in many ways to tasks that teenagers and adults will be required to do at a real job in “the real world”. This gives the special needs students in this school a concrete, hands on, example of what to expect when they get their first jobs.
Image by Ajay Jayne on Flickr