001

Table of Contents
 
Jossey-Bass Teacher
Title Page
Copyright Page
About This Book
What Are Life Skills?
Why Teach Life Skills?
What Students Will Use This Book?
How Do I Use This Book?
About the Author
Parent Activities and Suggestions
Part One: Self-Awareness
Part Two: People Skills
Part Three: Academic and School Skills
Part Four: Practical Living Skills
Part Five: Vocational Skills
Part Six: Problem-Solving Skills
 
Part One - Self-Awareness
 
Chapter 1 - My Character
 
1.1 Qualities of a Good Character
1.2 Honesty
1.3 Kindness
1.4 Loyalty
1.5 Responsibility
1.6 Flexibility
1.7 What Are Values?
 
Chapter 2 - Uniquely Me
 
2.1 Values Important to Me
2.2 My Ethnic Background
2.3 My Disabilities
2.4 What’s a Reputation?
2.5 Changing Your Reputation
2.6 How You Appear to Others
 
Chapter 3 - Personal Life Choices
 
3.1 Smoking: Is It for Me?
3.2 Marijuana and Other Drugs
3.3 Teens and Drinking
3.4 Changing Your Appearance
3.5 Tattoos and Piercings
3.6 Rate the Date
3.7 Ready to Move Out?
3.8 Ready to Work Part-Time?
 
Part Two - People Skills
Chapter 4 - Relating to Others
 
4.1 Encouraging Others
4.2 Working in a Group
4.3 Working Toward a Common Goal
4.4 Being Friendly
4.5 Helping Others
4.6 What Is a Mood?
4.7 Noticing the Moods of Others
4.8 How My Mood Affects Others
 
Chapter 5 - Friendship Skills
 
5.1 My Peer Groups
5.2 Who Are My Friends?
5.3 Making Friends
5.4 People Who Are Like You
5.5 People Who Are Different from You
5.6 Where and How to Look for Friends
5.7 Qualities of a Good Friend
5.8 Social Situations
5.9 A Positive Role Model
5.10 What About Gangs?
5.11 Social Networking Online
 
Chapter 6 - Being Part of a Family
 
6.1 My Family Tree
6.2 Benefits of a Family
6.3 Respecting Authority
6.4 My Parent’s Point of View
6.5 My Sibling’s Point of View
6.6 Thoughts About Divorce
6.7 Dealing with Stepparents
6.8 Sharing the Chores
6.9 Whom Can I Talk To?
 
Chapter 7 - Communication Skills
 
7.1 Best Method to Communicate
7.2 Being a Careful Listener
7.3 Summarizing
7.4 Paraphrasing
7.5 Is This the Right Time and Place?
7.6 Communicating by Cell Phone
7.7 Giving Clear Directions
7.8 Verbal and Nonverbal Messages
7.9 Collecting Your Thoughts
7.10 Public Speaking
7.11 Expecting Respect
7.12 Being Convincing
7.13 Giving Your Speech
 
Part Three - Academic and School Skills
Chapter 8 - Reading Skills
 
8.1 Reading for School
8.2 Reading on the Job
8.3 Improving Reading Skills
8.4 Reading for Comprehension
8.5 Following Written Directions
 
Chapter 9 - Writing Skills
 
9.1 Communicating Through Writing
9.2 Everyday Writing Tasks
9.3 Proofreading
9.4 E-mailing Dos and Don’ts
9.5 Using Computers to Improve Writing
9.6 Writing and More Writing
9.7 Writing on the Job
 
Chapter 10 - Math Skills
 
10.1 Everyday Math Skills
10.2 Improving Math Skills
10.3 Common Math Situations
10.4 Understanding Graphs
10.5 Understanding Charts
10.6 Sample Math Problems
10.7 Using Computers for Math Information
 
Chapter 11 - Study Skills
 
11.1 School Tasks for Success
11.2 Tools for the Task
11.3 Taking Notes
11.4 Studying Smarter
11.5 Following Directions
11.6 Doing Homework
11.7 Managing Daily Assignments
11.8 Managing Long-Term Assignments
11.9 Completing Assignments
11.10 Good Student Behaviors
11.11 Requesting Help or Information
 
Part Four - Practical Living Skills
Chapter 12 - Information Skills
 
12.1 What Do You Need to Know?
12.2 Where to Get Information
12.3 Information from Newspapers
12.4 Information from Magazines
12.5 Information from the Internet
12.6 Information from Books
12.7 Information from Television
12.8 Information from Other People
12.9 Taking Classes
 
Chapter 13 - Money Skills
 
13.1 What Is a Budget?
13.2 Making a Budget
13.3 Paying Interest
13.4 “On Sale”
13.5 Unit Pricing
13.6 How Much Do Things Cost?
13.7 Writing a Check
13.8 Maintaining a Checking Account
13.9 What Is a Savings Account?
13.10 Credit Cards
13.11 Using Debit and Credit Cards and ATMs
13.12 How Much Money Will You Need?
13.13 Making Change
 
Chapter 14 - Travel
 
14.1 Local Transportation
14.2 Overnight Travel
14.3 Traveling by Plane
14.4 Planning a Trip
14.5 Estimating Costs
14.6 Using a Timetable
14.7 Reading a Map
 
Chapter 15 - Clothing
 
15.1 Caring for and Repairing Clothing
15.2 Buying Appropriate Clothes
15.3 Organizing Your Clothes
15.4 Washing and Drying Tips
 
Chapter 16 - Living Arrangements
 
16.1 A Place to Live
16.2 Living with Parents
16.3 Home Upkeep
16.4 Home Repairs
16.5 Going Green
16.6 Decluttering
 
Chapter 17 - Eating and Nutrition
 
17.1 Nutrition
17.2 Making Good Food Choices
17.3 Eating Out versus Eating In
17.4 Preparing a Meal
 
Chapter 18 - Shopping
 
18.1 What Do I Need?
18.2 Smart Shopping
18.3 Comparison Shopping
18.4 Returning Items
 
Chapter 19 - Exercise/Health and Hygiene
 
19.1 Exercise in Daily Life
19.2 Exercise Excuses
19.3 Personal Health Habits
19.4 Stress and Stressors
19.5 Stressful Events and Situations
19.6 Coping with Stress
19.7 Depression
 
Part Five - Vocational Skills
Chapter 20 - Present Skills and Interests
 
20.1 My Strengths
20.2 My Interests
20.3 My Hobbies
20.4 Realistic Vocational Goals
20.5 Academic Strengths
20.6 Working with a Disability
20.7 Finishing High School
20.8 Extracurricular Activities
 
Chapter 21 - Getting a Job
 
21.1 Searching for a Job
21.2 Vocational Vocabulary
21.2 Vocabulary Help Sheet
21.3 Filling Out an Application
21.4 What Is a Résumé?
21.5 Interviewing for a Job
21.6 First Impressions
21.7 Getting Work Experience
 
Chapter 22 - Working
 
22.1 Having a Good Attitude
22.2 Being a Great Employee
22.3 Making a Mistake on the Job
22.4 Handling Criticism on the Job
22.4 Handling Criticism on the Job
22.5 Being Prepared for the Task
22.5 Being Prepared for the Task
22.6 Changing Jobs: Why?
22.6 Changing Jobs: Why?
22.7 Changing Jobs: How?
22.7 Changing Jobs: How?
 
Part Six - Problem-Solving Skills
Chapter 23 - Handling Problem Situations
 
23.1 Understanding the Problem
23.1 Understanding the Problem
23.2 Coping with Surprises
23.2 Coping with Surprises
23.3 Adjusting to Change
23.3 Adjusting to Change
23.4 When the Problem Is You!
23.4 When the Problem Is You!
 
Chapter 24 - Making Decisions
 
24.1 Decision-Making Factors
24.1 Decision-Making Factors
24.2 Needs versus Wants
24.2 Needs versus Wants
24.3 Immediate Needs versus Waiting
24.3 Immediate Needs versus Waiting
24.4 Following Through
24.4 Following Through
24.5 Changing Bad Decisions
24.5 Changing Bad Decisions
 
Chapter 25 - Resource Management
 
25.1 What Are My Resources?
25.1 What Are My Resources?
25.2 Reliable Resources
25.2 Reliable Resources
25.3 Fact versus Opinion
25.3 Fact versus Opinion
25.4 Time Management
25.4 Time Management
25.5 Staying on Task
25.5 Staying on Task
 
Chapter 26 - Goal-Setting
 
26.1 What Is a Goal?
26.1 What Is a Goal?
26.2 Setting Priorities
26.2 Setting Priorities
26.3 Doing Things in Sequence
26.3Doing Things in Sequence
26.4 Realistic Goals
26.4 Realistic Goals
26.5 Adjusting Goals
26.5 Adjusting Goals
 
Chapter 27 - Risk-Taking
 
27.1 What Is a Risk?
27.1 What Is a Risk?
27.2 Why Take Risks?
27.2 Why Take Risks?
27.3 Acceptable Risks
27.3 Acceptable Risks
27.4 Handling Fear
27.4 Handling Fear

Jossey-Bass Teacher
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001

About This Book
Life Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs is a resource for special education and regular education teachers, counselors, parents, paraprofessionals, and others who are involved in the education, training, employment, or socialization of students.

What Are Life Skills?

Basically, life skills are a group of skills that an individual needs to acquire for an independent life, as far as that life is possible. One could argue that the most important skills one acquires in life are the skills of sound character, such as honesty, kindness, and being responsible. At school, students need to acquire the whole realm of academic skills, including reading, writing, and solving math problems. In addition, school is a microcosm of society that demands the acquisition of appropriate social skills. Life skills also includes the many tasks that make up daily living, such as shopping, saving money, traveling, or eating. Vocational skills are another component of what a special needs child will need to acquire—finding and maintaining an appropriate job. Problem-solving skills are a vital thinking technique that can be superimposed on all of the other areas.

Why Teach Life Skills?

The teaching of life skills is an ongoing process for children. It can take place in many campuses (at school, at home, in the community) and be taught by many teachers (including professional educators, the bus driver, your neighbor, other children, and community leaders). Sometimes, however, it is best to have a directed goal with a target in mind to help stay focused on what your child needs to learn. Having a specific goal helps not only the student, but the teacher or parent as well.

What Students Will Use This Book?

The lessons in this book are primarily directed toward middle school or younger high school students who have a special need for learning. This special need might be a social disability, learning disability, or moderate mental or physical handicap that requires slowing down the pace of the task, going step -by-step toward a goal, needing extra practice, learning through targeted discussion, and/or simply steering them toward the core skill.
The material can be adapted for a variety of uses. Answers can be oral or written, students can work individually or in groups, activities can be tailored to fit whatever needs are more pressing.

How Do I Use This Book?

As a teacher or parent, you have many options as far as using the material in this book. A typical lesson contains these elements:
• A specific objective for the lesson
• Brief comments about the nature or importance of the skill
• An introductory activity or two
• Discussion questions pertaining to the skill
• Answer key or suggested responses
• An extension activity or two
• Evaluation items
In addition, there are parent activities and suggestions for each of the six sections.
The book is organized into six main parts:
 
Part One, Self-Awareness, contains twenty-one lessons on character (being responsible, loyal, kind, and so on), individual uniqueness (ethnicity, disabilities, reputation, and so on), and personal life choices (such as smoking, drinking, tattoos, moving out).
Part Two, People Skills, contains forty-one lessons on relating to others (such as working with others, being in a good mood), developing friendship skills (recognizing people who are the same as or different from you, social networking, and so on), and being part of a family (such as understanding another’s point of view, sharing space), and communicating (being a good listener, understanding verbal and nonverbal messages, and so on).
Part Three, Academic and School Skills, is primarily related to education and contains thirty lessons on reading, writing, math, and study skills. Teachers in a school setting may find this section helpful for their students.
Part Four, Practical Living Skills, is a longer section containing fifty-four lessons on acquiring information, handling money, travel, clothing, living arrangements, eating and nutrition, shopping, and including exercise and hygiene in your life. Parents of special needs teens may use this section in a home environment.
Part Five, Vocational Skills, contains twenty-two lessons on understanding present skills and interests (hobbies and strengths), getting a job (filling out an application, interviewing, and so on), and actual working (skills needed to be a good employee).
Part Six, Problem-Solving Skills, has twenty-three lessons on skills such as handling problem situations, making decisions, using good resource management, goal-setting, and risk-taking. The examples in these lessons come from home, school, work, and community settings.
 
Life Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs was first published in 1995. To reflect changes in education and current social needs, many lessons have been added or updated.
Part One, Self-Awareness, includes a chapter on My Character, which brings into focus character-building skills such as kindness, honesty, and responsibility. These skills are timeless in their value in any program for any student. Other lessons address tattoos and piercings, having a disability, and making life choices about moving out or getting a part-time job.
Part Two, People Skills, includes updated material about social relationships, including noticing the moods of others and how one’s mood affects others, places to find friends, social networking online, understanding another’s point of view, and using a cell phone.
Part Three, Academic and School Skills, has lessons on e-mailing, using computers to improve school tasks, and using computers to find information online.
Part Four, Practical Living Skills, now includes obtaining information from the Internet; taking classes for further learning; using debit, credit, and ATM cards; overnight travel; care of clothing; “going green” smart shopping; learning about nutrition; and the importance of daily exercise.
Part Five, Vocational Skills, includes revisions to the sections on interviewing for a job, searching for a job, creating a good first impression, and how to handle making mistakes and criticism on the job.
Part Six, Problem-Solving Skills, has lessons about seeing oneself as the problem, taking risks, and handling fearful situations.
There are a total of 191 lessons, 62 of which are new, for a total of 32 percent revised material. There are numerous minor updates and revisions on many of the retained lessons as well.
I hope that you find the lessons to be helpful and appropriate for your students or child!
Darlene Mannix

About the Author
Darlene Mannix has worked as an educator for more than twenty years and has taught a wide range of children, including learning disabled, emotionally disturbed, language-disordered, and multiply disabled students. She received her bachelor of science degree from Taylor University and her master’s degree in learning disabilities from Indiana University. A past presenter at numerous educational conferences including the Council for Exceptional Children, she has authored many books, including Writing Skills Activities for Special Children (Jossey-Bass, 2004); Social Skills Activities for Special Children, second edition (Jossey-Bass, 2008); Social Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs, second edition (Jossey-Bass, 2009); and Life Skills Activities for Special Children, second edition (Jossey-Bass, 2009). She currently works as a Title 1 reading teacher at Indian Trail Elementary School in La Porte, Indiana.

Parent Activities and Suggestions

Part One: Self-Awareness

My Character
• Emphasize that a child’s character is more important than anything else that he or she will ever develop. Being a good person is what really counts.
• Give your child opportunities to take on responsibility around the house. After giving an assignment or chore, act as though you expect him or her to do it; don’t keep nagging.
• Talk about what values you think are important. Share experiences that have helped shape your values.
• Praise your child when you catch him or her doing something thoughtful or kind for others.
• When you introduce your child to others, use the opportunity to add a positive comment about your child.
• Practice acts of kindness all of the time. Invite your child to be a part of this.
Uniquely Me
• Share with your child any details that are appropriate about his or her birth. A birthday is a special day to every individual—it is the one day of the year that is earmarked for that person alone.
• If your child has a diagnosed disability, talk about what that means as far as expectations for his or her future. Even though he may have a disability, he still has the ability and the expectation to go as far as he can to succeed in life. If appropriate, talk about the causes of a disability.
• Make it a family project to participate in something that is of interest to your particular ethnic background—Irish dancing? French cooking?
Personal Life Choices
• You, of course, are a very important role model to your child. If you are trying to quit smoking, for example, share your decision with your child and explain why.
• Decisions about drinking, especially drinking and driving, can be some of the most crucial decisions your teen makes. Give your child a way out if confronted with a situation in which she needs a ride home. Let your child know that you’d much rather get a call for a ride home than have her get into a car with an impaired driver.
• Encourage your child to think and talk about future events such as moving out or working part-time. This can be scary—but it can also be exciting as you plan future independence together.

Part Two: People Skills

Relating to Others
• Point out good service (or poor service) as you interact with others around you. Compliment a server for refilling your drinks. Notice a cashier who is efficient. Let your child observe you modeling positive interaction with others.
• Get to know your neighbors. Even if it’s just a friendly “Hello,” encourage your child to get involved in the neighborhood. Perhaps he or she can help with a neighborly errand.
• Join in a community party, fund-raiser, or volunteer organization. Share a positive focus as a family and as a community.
Friendship Skills
• Encourage your child to host a party. It can be a simple get -together to play games or watch a movie, or an elaborate themed event.
• Talk to your child about gang activity. Stay in close contact with your school to keep communication and information lines open.
• Find out who your child’s friends are. Invite them over and get to know them.
Being Part of a Family
• Attend or plan a family reunion.
• Get a family photograph taken. Frame it and display it.
• Give your child a sense of family history by going through old family photo albums. Show your child any memorabilia that was important to someone in your family.
• Spend an evening watching family videos. There will be lots of laughter, embarrassing moments, and good memories.
• Have family meetings on a regular basis. Make this a time for family members to share their concerns. This may be a good time to review lists of chores, talk about upcoming family projects or vacations, or make resolutions to improve problem situations.
• Don’t hesitate to attend parenting workshops or family groups, or use other community resources if your family is going through a divorce or if there are problems with stepparents. This is more common than you may realize.
• Stay in touch with the school counselor or an administrator who may be the person most likely to work with your child if there are family problems that show up at school.
• Eat a meal together on a regular basis. Make it a point to do something together as a family. No one can miss, no excuses. This is a priority.
Communication Skills
• Resist the urge to speak for your child in social situations. Instead of telling about your child’s accomplishments or activities, encourage him or her to talk (prompting is fine). xviLife Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs
• Watch a movie or TV show together and discuss it afterward.
• Ask your child’s opinions about things that are happening. Don’t jump in too quickly to judge or overrule your child’s opinion. Listen.
• Ask your child to give directions for how to do something or how to get somewhere. He or she will learn that directions need to be clear and sequential or it won’t make any sense.
• If your child is moody or unusually quiet, ask if he or she can put the feelings into words. Model how sometimes you feel worried, tense, confused, and so on.
• Remind your child that moods change. Just because he or she is feeling sad or angry right now, that is not going to be the case forever. That is what a mood is—something that lasts for awhile and then will change.
• Encourage your child to write in a “mood journal” and express the feelings that are being experienced. This can be used to read later when the mood has passed and the situation may look different.

Part Three: Academic and School Skills

Reading Skills
• Take weekly trips to the library or bookstore to bring reading materials into your home. Secondhand bookstores are a great source for inexpensive books.
• If your child is having problems with reading, look for a peer tutor who may be interested in helping you out. Depending on the age of your child and the extent of the problems, you may want to contact your child’s school or teacher to get some ideas.
• Order your child a subscription to a magazine that he or she enjoys.
• Be a good example of a reader by taking the time to read every day—demonstrate that this is a pleasurable activity (if it is for you!).
Writing Skills
• If your child takes phone messages and sometimes misses important things (such as the callback number), provide a ready-made phone pad with lines or spaces for the caller, time of call, message, and callback number.
• Keep lists around your house of things that are purchased on a regular basis, such as food items, cleaning supplies, and the like. Ask your child to add what is needed to each list by writing it down.
• If your family takes a trip or participates in a special event, have your child help record impressions and details about the event. You might want to remember who attended a family reunion, comments about a rock concert, anecdotes from a trip, humorous memories or predictions, and so on.
• Your child might be interested in starting a blog—an online journal. He or she may not want you to read everything that is on it, but show an interest, and if you’re allowed to read it, add positive comments and don’t insist on perfect spelling or grammar.
Math Skills
• Set aside ten to fifteen minutes each evening to focus on one particular math skill, such as reviewing math facts with flash cards, drawing pictures to go with a story problem, or helping set up an educational computer game that addresses a skill.
• When reviewing math homework, ask your child to tell you the specific directions and steps for an assignment. The procedures for math problems may be a little different now from when you were in school.
• Bring along a calculator to the grocery store and have your child keep a running tab or estimate of how much you are spending.
• Graphs and charts are everywhere—from the newspaper to the gas station to your electric bill. As you find them on everyday occasions, point out the purpose of the graph or chart and see if your child can identify the information.
• Help your child set up and maintain a personal graph or chart for a project, as an ongoing record or just to keep track of how much time is spent on a certain activity (how many minutes spent on chores, how many miles walked, how many inches grown, and so on).
Study Skills
• Find a calendar that introduces and uses one new vocabulary word a day. Have every member of the family learn the definition and use the word in conversation several times that day.
• Make sure your child has a designated place in which to study. Include a spot for all of the necessary tools—pencils, extra paper, a dictionary, calendar, stapler, a good desk lamp, bulletin board, and space for a computer/printer (if possible). Preferably, find a location that is relatively peaceful, free from distractions, and comfortable yet not so relaxing that nothing will be accomplished.
• If television, video games, or cell phones and their accessories are problems in competing for your child’s time, find or negotiate a way to make their use contingent on how well your child ’s grades are kept up, chores are completed, attitude is acceptable, and so on. Do not feel that you “owe” these things to your child if he or she is not keeping up the other end of the bargain.
• Keep in close contact with your child’s teachers and know when to expect report cards and midterm reports.
• Volunteer, if possible, to help out in your child’s school with occasional projects or on a regular basis. Let your child know that school is important to you.
• If you have a problem or question about something that has happened at school, reserve judgment until you have contacted the school or principal and heard another viewpoint. Model showing respect for authority and understanding another’s point of view in front of your child. Many issues are quickly resolved once communication lines between school and home are opened.

Part Four: Practical Living Skills

Information Skills
• If you can find a good set of encyclopedias or have access to the Internet, spend some time looking up information with your child. Show your child how the encyclopedia is organized (alphabetically) and, similarly, how to find information on the Internet.
• Encourage your child to watch local or regional news with you on TV. Talk about what is going on in your community.
Money Skills
• Encourage your child to make a savings plan to save up for a desired item. Map out how much needs to be saved weekly in order to buy the item within a reasonable amount of time.
• Help your child come up with a budget for spending and saving. If you pay your child for chores or grades, include that in the overall plan. Talk about what factors can be adjusted.
• Open up a savings or checking account for your child. Go over the monthly statements so that he or she can see growth, spending habits or trends, and fees that are assessed.
Travel
• Before taking a family trip, map out the plan using maps or an atlas. Calculate the mileage, expected travel time, and best route. Locate interesting side trips that your family might want to take.
• Make a list of what items are necessary for weekend travel, overnight travel, or plane travel. Keep the list handy for at least a week before you go on a major trip, and add items as they come to mind.
• Select several community destinations and have your child figure out how public transportation could be used to get there. Obtain a copy of timetables.
Clothing
• Periodically go through closets (spring cleaning?) and have your child choose what clothing is needed and what items can be given away or stored.
• Give your child opportunities to wash and dry clothing. Realize there might be a few mistakes along the way!
Living Arrangements
• Have a daily or weekly schedule of who is responsible for which chores in the house.
• Monitor your family’s heat, electric, and phone bills for a period of several months. Analyze what factors account for the bill and talk about how to keep costs down.
Eating and Nutrition
• Set aside one evening a week for your child to host and prepare a meal. Help in whatever way is appropriate—shopping, planning, organizing, preparing, hosting—but increasingly give your child more independence.
• Set aside a particular place for coupons or weekly shopping ads so they are easily accessible before shopping.
• Collect family recipes or favorite meals that have been successfully prepared. Laminate them or use index cards or plastic sleeves to keep them protected.
Shopping
• Look for sales of needed items before buying them. Give your child a reasonable estimate of how much he or she should expect to spend on something. If the item comes in under budget, let your child keep the savings.
• Have a place to keep receipts so that you can return purchases easily if they don’t work out.
Exercise/Health and Hygiene
• Set a good example of staying healthy by exercising. Include your child if possible, in your own activities.
• Look for opportunities for your child to participate in sports, on teams or through lessons or neighborhood game-playing in the park.
• Be aware of the changes your child will be going through as far as puberty. Prepare your child for the changes in hygiene and self-esteem that may be experienced.
• You are responsible for getting your child to the dentist and to the doctor when necessary.
• If you are concerned about your child’s level of stress or possible depression, check in with your school counselor or a teacher whom you trust. Don’t ignore warning signs if your child seems unusually unhappy or has developed odd or unexpected new behaviors.

Part Five: Vocational Skills

Present Skills and Interests
• You are in a unique position to note your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Think about what you have noticed about his or her vocational interests over the years. When he was little, what did he want to be when he grew up?
• Expose your child to job possibilities. Take advantage of friends of yours who might be willing to take your child to work for a day—or a few hours.
• Does your child know what his parents do for a living? How do you feel about your job? What you say and your attitude about work can affect how your child will view the world of work.
• If possible, allow your child to participate in activities that reflect her or his interests. Lessons (music, riding) can be expensive, but look for ways to involve your child in things he likes in natural ways. (Can you trade riding lessons for stall cleaning? Are there teen programs at the YMCA or through scouting?)
Getting a Job
• Your child may need your help to pull some strings to land that first job. Help him or her by keeping an eye out for entry-level positions with your friends, neighbors, or even your own employer.
• Encourage your child to have character references ready to go. Think about who would give a glowing reference for a job application. Make sure your child asks permission to use this person as a reference.
• Sometimes employers will let the applicant take the paperwork home to complete. If your child needs practice in filling them out, grab a few samples and help her prepare to find the information that will be needed (school information, references, personal information, and so on).
• Your child may need to think creatively to land a job—work for free for a trial period? Show enthusiasm? Keep calling back (without being a pest)?
Working
• The first job may not be your child’s ideal experience—but emphasize that he or she must perform as though it is the greatest job in the world. That kind of attitude will get your child noticed.
• If your child complains about things about the job, remind him that everything he learns and does can affect what happens later. He can take advantage of the “bad” things to learn how to accept criticism, learn from mistakes, gain new skills, and take pride in sticking it out!
• Emphasize again and again how important it is to get to work on time, have good attendance, and start the day with a smile.
• Remind your child that he or she is not the boss (yet).

Part Six: Problem-Solving Skills

Handling Problem Situations
• Most special needs students do not handle change very well. When you know that a major change is coming (such as a move, divorce, or new baby), let your child know well in advance, or with appropriate notice (some students will then perseverate about the change relentlessly). Stress positive aspects of the change and allow your child to be a part of it as much as possible.
• If your child is often the one causing a problem in a social situation, help her take ownership of that behavior. There is some degree of perceived power in being able to change what happens or control others’ behavior. Encourage her to use this perceived power to control the most important person: herself.
• Give your child problem-solving activities to work on, such as Sudoku puzzles, word searches, jigsaw puzzles, and minute mysteries. Talk about techniques for problem solving—trying another approach, looking at something from another perspective, trial and error, thinking critically. These are skills that can be applied to life situations as well.
Making Decisions
• Make a pro/con chart when your child has a nonroutine decision to make. Help him consider both sides of the decision—the investment, the process, the consequences—before making a decision.
• Although it may be hard, sometimes it is better to stand aside and let your child make a poor decision (as long as it doesn’t affect safety or too much self-esteem). Ideally, you can both laugh about it later.
• Sometimes it is helpful to involve a third party for making decisions. This might be someone who is familiar with the situation, someone respected by both sides, or someone who is objective enough to help with making a decision.
Resource Management
• As situations come up, have your child identify whether something is a need or a want.
• If your child works for you or gets an allowance, help her learn that this is not an endless resource. When the job is finished, she gets paid. When the job is not done, no pay.
• Have your child make her own personal resource list. What people in her life are there for her? What are her talents and skills?
• Use opportunities to differentiate between fact and opinion. While watching the news at night or reading an article about something going on, you might find opportunities to explain when someone is giving an opinion versus presenting carefully documented facts. When your child wants to argue, ask for facts.
Goal-Setting
• Set a monthly family goal. Write it, display it, review it, revise it, complete it!
• When there seem to be many things to do, practice prioritizing the goals. Talk about what needs to be done first. Sometimes just getting the first step done will get the ball rolling. Clean out one drawer, vacuum one room, write one letter, start one load of laundry.
Risk-Taking
• Break up your routine. List five things that your family has never done before and take a family risk. Learn to bowl. Run a 5K. Visit a nursing home. Plant flowers in the community park. Wear something currently in fashion. Have some fun.
• Some risks are not worth even considering. Being in a dangerous situation (taking drugs, being out late at night alone, getting into a car with a drunk driver) is not worth the risk. It is better to learn that lesson by example, not by experience.
• Be supportive of your child if he or she is in a frightening situation. You can’t protect your kids from everything, but if you know your child is going to be in a frightening situation, have a plan ready to execute. And have a backup plan in case Plan A fails!

Part One
Self-Awareness

Chapter 1
My Character

1.1 Qualities of a Good Character

Objective:

The student will identify examples of a person showing good character traits.

Comments:

The notion of having good character is somewhat intuitive—you know good character when you see it. In this lesson, students are introduced to the idea of character as something positive, whether it is an action or a thought that leads to an action. It has nothing to do with physical attributes such as how someone looks or their physical limitations.

Introductory Activities:

1. Write the word character on the board and ask students what they think “good character” means.
2. As you go through their ideas, ask if they think character is something inside a person; that is, how they think or act—or outside a person; that is, the way a person looks.
3. Come up with a working definition of character: traits or inner qualities of a person that would make them outstanding or worthy of positive attention.

Activity:

“Qualities of a Good Character” is an introductory worksheet for students. The concept of character is presented by examples showing good citizenship, treating others well, or making good choices. Students are to match these three traits to the examples. Several answers can be correct as long as students can justify them. Answers: 1. B (or C) 2. A 3. C (or B) 4. A 5. B 6. C 7. B 8. A (or C)

Discussion:

Go through the worksheet items and discuss why students selected their answers.
1. Did any of the examples mention the way a person looked? (No.)
2. In examples 3 and 6, what choices did the people have? (Be angry or wait; skip school or not.) How did the good choices help the people? (Avoided a possible argument; allowed Denny to take the test he needed to take.)
3. How do examples 2, 4, and 8 consider others while being a good citizen? (Make the park a nicer place for others; safety issue for the person and the drivers; provide relief for the man who lost the wallet.)

Extension Activities:

1. Have students search through photographs, magazines, or the Internet to find pictures that portray someone in the act of showing good character.
2. List characters familiar to students in movies, books, or other common venues who are good examples of someone with good character. Discuss why this person seems to have good character. What about this person is outstanding?

Evaluation:

1. Give an example of someone being a good citizen.
2. Give an example of someone treating others well.
3. Give an example of someone making a good choice.
1.1 Qualities of a Good Character
Directions:
These students are showing good character traits. Write the letter of the trait next to each example.
A = Good citizen B = Treats others well C = Makes good choices
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_ 1. Eloise’s father asked her to be at home right after school so she could babysit for her little sister and brother. She told her friends that she wouldn’t be able to go out with them after school and came home.
_ 2. Danny and Henry were walking through the park near their home and noticed a lot of litter. They picked up some cans and threw them into a bag to be recycled.
_ 3. Alison was angry at her best friend for forgetting to return a necklace that she borrowed. Alison wanted to yell at her friend, but decided to calm down and wait before talking to her friend. The next day she didn’t feel angry, and her friend apologized.
_ 4. Tony needed to cross a busy street to get to the store, but instead of rushing into the street to make the cars stop for him, he went to the street corner and waited for the crosswalk light to change. Then he walked across.
_ 5. Sara knew that her mother was worried about losing her job. Sara decided to make her mother a nice salad when she came home, and she cleaned the house without being asked.
_ 6. Denny’s friend wanted him to join them in skipping school. Denny had a big test that day and told his friends that he needed to go to school.
_ 7. Kara was walking down the hall when a girl accidentally knocked into her and made her drop her books. The girl felt very bad and almost started to cry. Kara laughed and told her not to worry about it.
_ 8. Pete and Devon noticed a wallet on the street with some money, credit cards, and photographs inside. They picked it up and found enough identification to locate the owner, so they called him and returned the wallet.

1.2 Honesty

Objective:

The student will identify ways that someone could show honesty in given situations.

Comments:

To be thought of as an honest person, someone needs to continually demonstrate that quality, including (especially?) in situations that are not readily observed by others. Think honesty at all times! This worksheet offers examples of situations in which a person has an opportunity to act honestly.

Introductory Activities:

1. Talk about what honesty means—telling the truth or behaving in a way that is consistent with what is true. 2. Ask students to share examples of observed honesty in others. 3. Ask students to share examples of their own honesty.

Activity:

Explain that students will read about honesty in the examples on the worksheet “Honesty.” Answers (Examples): 1. Return the money. 2. Tell your mother why you didn’t get the chores done. 3. Tell your friend that you already committed to an event but will spend time with him or her later. 4. Take the boxes to the post office. 5. Discreetly let the usher know which kids were involved. 6. Better to admit that you didn’t get your math done.

Discussion:

Discuss how each example showed honest behavior and the positive results that came from that act.
1. How are other people affected by the honest behavior in these examples?
2. In item #1, why would returning the money matter if the clerk didn’t know she had made a mistake? (Might catch up with her later and she would have to pay for the mistake.)
3. How was being honest taking a risk in #5? (Could be anger on the part of the kids if they found out.) Why would it be worth the risk? (So the theater would be a friendly place for others in the future.)

Extension Activities:

1. Discuss the difference between being “brutally honest” and being tactful.
2. Have students think of someone whom they consider to be a very honest person. Write a short paragraph describing the person and the person’s honesty.

Evaluation:

How could you show honesty if you bought a sweatshirt at the store and when you looked in the bag, you had accidentally taken some socks that you didn’t pay for?
Name ____ Date _
1.2 Honesty
Directions:
How could these people demonstrate good character by using honesty? Write your answer next to each item.
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1. I gave the clerk a $10 bill and she gave me way too much money back.
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2. My mother asked if I finished all of the chores I was supposed to do. I didn’t get them done, but it was because I had to help my next-door neighbor. I am not sure my mother will listen to my excuses, though.
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3. My friend invited me to go bowling, but I already promised someone else that I would go out with him. I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings.
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4. My aunt asked me to take these boxes to the post office before noon so they could get out in today’s mail. She is gone, so she won’t know whether I did it or not.
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5. Some kids were throwing popcorn around in the movie theater. The usher asked me which kids were causing the problem.
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6. I was rushing to get my math assignment done. Carol said I could copy her paper if I wanted to.
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1.3 Kindness

Objective:

The student will identify an act of kindness that could be shown to someone else in a given situation.

Comments:

A popular idea going around is that of doing a “random act of kindness” toward others—usually a surprising and pleasant act, going way beyond what is necessary to show kindness to someone. The act of kindness is not expected, is not necessary, and in many instances is not even acknowledged. Encourage students to be creative in their ways of showing kindness toward others.

Introductory Activities:

Give students plenty of examples of random acts of kindness and the spirit behind the movement by using the books Random Acts of Kindness (Daphne Rose Kingma and Dawna Markova, Conari Press, 2002) and Kids’ Random Acts of Kindness (Conari Press, 1994).
1. Ask students to tell about acts of kindness that have been done to them. 2. Ask students to give examples of any acts of kindness that they have done to others.

Activity:

Students are to read each example of a situation in which an act of kindness could be done. Students should use their own unique personalities to come up with their responses. Encourage students to be creative, yet realistic. What would they really do? Answers (Examples): 1. Pay the cashier and don’t tell the girl that it was you. 2. Write Ben an anonymous note telling how much someone liked his work. 3. Send the girl flowers. 4. Make sure that Mrs. Miller receives a card from every student in her class.

Discussion:

There is no single correct answer to these situations. Some students may be able to describe an act of kindness, but would never follow through on it. Ask students to be honest about their responses.
1. Would you want someone to know if you did something kind for somebody? Why would you want to be recognized? 2. How much did each of your deeds cost in terms of time, money, energy? 3. Does doing an act of kindness make the kind doer feel good? Is that why people do these things? 4. After hearing what other people came up with as far as ideas, would you change what you would do? Do you like other ideas better now than your own? 5. Which of these acts of kindness would you ever really do?

Extension Activities:

1. Plan to do a wild, exuberant act of kindness. Plot whom you will target and what you will do, then carry it out. What was the reaction of the person you targeted? How did it make you feel? Did you do it secretly or did you want to be discovered? 2. Read the book Random Acts of Kindness. Which were your favorite anecdotes? Why? 3. Compile a class book of acts of kindness. What starts happening when people start being outrageously kind to each other? 4. Refer to www.actsofkindness.org to investigate lots of ways people have shown kindness to others.

Evaluation:

1. Give a general example of a random act of kindness. 2. Give a very specific example of an act of kindness that you have personally been involved in.
1.3 Kindness
Directions:
How could the person in each picture below demonstrate an act of kindness? On the back of this sheet, draw or write about a good example.
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1.4 Loyalty

Objective:

The student will give an example of loyalty to someone or something.

Comments:

Being loyal to someone or something involves providing your support even during times of turmoil or misunderstanding. It is important to develop loyalty within friendships, family, and other groups that share a common bond or passion. Knowing that someone will stick with you or stick up for you whether you are there or not, whether you are having a good day or a bad day, is a true test of loyalty.

Introductory Activities:

1. Ask students to share the name of their favorite sports team. Why do they support this team?
2. Talk about what loyalty means—being supportive of someone or something in good times or bad. What does this actually look like?

Activity:

The worksheet “Loyalty” gives examples of students who are/are not showing loyalty to someone or something. The student is to circle the names of the loyal students. Answers: 1. Allan 2. Jill 3. Katie 4. David

Discussion:

Go through each example and discuss why each person is or is not showing loyalty.
1. In each example, are the people showing loyalty to a person or to a team or organization? (To people: 2, 3, 4; to a team: 1.)
2. Why does it matter if Frank changed his mind about cheering for the team? (It shows he only cares about who is winning.)
3. In example 2, how would the sister feel in each case? (Loved; alienated.)
4. How does example 3 show a good solution? (Katie wants to invite the friend.)
5. Why would it be hard to be loyal to someone like the boy in example 4? (He is not a fun friend.) Do you think it is a good time to be loyal? (Probably; it might help him.)

Extension Activities:

1. Dogs are often given the label “man’s best friend” because of their loyalty. Talk about what this means. Example? 2. Have students find examples in stories or movies of extreme loyalty. 3. In what ways do we show loyalty to our school, family, house of worship, country, and so on? 4. Collect items that depict loyalty, such as: sweatshirts, baseball caps, pins, pennants, school colors, bumper stickers, and so on.

Evaluation:

1. How could you show loyalty to a member of your family? 2. How could you show loyalty to an organization such as a house of worship, school, or team?
1.4 Loyalty
Directions:
Which of these students is showing loyalty to someone or something? Circle the name of the loyal student in each case.
1. ALLEN: Go team! I will support our team, win or lose!
FRANK: Oh man, they are losing terribly! I think I’ ll start cheering for the other team.
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2. JILL: You are my sister, and no matter what, I care about you.
MEGAN: You look really weird. Don’t tell anyone we are related.
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3. ELLEN: Hey, we are going to Pat’s house after the game. Want to come?
KATIE: Do I! Yes! Hang on . . . Hello, Sue? Something came up, and now I can’t go out with you.
ABBY: Sorry, I already have plans.
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4. MICHAEL: Rick is acting strangely these days. I don’t think I’ ll hang out with Rick anymore. He is boring and doesn’t want to do anything.
DAVID: I think he needs a friend, so I’ ll spend some time with him.
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1.5 Responsibility

Objective:

The student will give an example of showing responsibility in a given situation.

Comments:

Being responsible means that you will do or be whatever is needed, whether or not someone is there to supervise you. It is important to be trusted to do what needs to be done, with or without someone directing you.

Introductory Activities:

1. What is the most important job you have ever been given? Who gave you the job? What did you have to do? How did it go? 2. Have you ever disappointed someone by not doing what they expected you to do? 3. What does being responsible mean to you?

Activity:

Answers (Examples):