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Life Skills

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My daughter is entering third grade and is involved in the resource room at school. They want to integrate her into a life-skills program. They haven't given us any specifics about what she would be taught. What specific life skills should a third-grader know?

A: Most life-skills programs do not focus on skills the child should be able to do at that particular age. Rather, they focus on preparing the child for the future and help them learn skills that will allow them to function independently in the world.

In general, third-graders can be expected to have good social skills. They are able to meet and converse with someone new, whether the person is an adult or another child. They are able to answer the phone appropriately and to take a message, and they are able to keep up with their own belongings. Third-graders are able to organize their things and to get things back and forth between school and home, although some still need help with organizational skills.

Ask for a conference with the teachers who are talking about a life-skills program for your daughter to find out exactly what is involved. Since she attends resource classes, your daughter probably has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and any life skills on which she will work should be spelled out in the plan. As you know, you will have input into your daughter's IEP and you should feel comfortable about the things on which she will work.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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