Teach for the Future Today

Teach for the Future Today. A young girl is making a bit of a mess as she attempts to wash dishes.

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Students with visual impairments must be directly taught how to do things that their sighted peers learn incidentally. A baby with sight is incidentally learning how to pour a drink, wash dishes, and cook toast, just by hanging out with their parents in the kitchen. You may be wishing that your sighted preschooler had not tried to pour himself a glass of milk last week!  Or you may be on the other end and thinking, “that’s crazy! My sighted teenager still can’t wash the dishes properly!”  While that may be true, the sighted teenager has seen dishes washed many times, and with minimal instruction, or perhaps supervision, is able to wash the dishes. For the teenager with a visual impairment, if they have not been directly taught how to do the dishes this would be a much more difficult process to figure out in many ways.  In addition to direct instruction of skills, mastering a new skill takes more time for students with visual impairments, for both instruction and practice, than their sighted peers.

Teach for the Future Today. A young girl is peering into the washing machine as she does laundry.

Teach for the Future Today: Daily living skills

As TVIs, or parents, we know these facts. However, we often forget that this applies to all skills, and not just the more obvious daily living skills.  A student in first grade, for example, should be learning access to information skills that they may not need in the general education classroom until upper elementary grades. Learning to use speech to text and screen readers with independence and efficiency when they are young will allow them a smooth transition in workflow when the volume of work increases exponentially each year. While a student in fourth grade should be preparing for middle school by learning how to unlock, organize and maintain a locker; to practice maintaining a calendar of due dates for multi-day or week assignments; and to both move and set up their assistive technology in various locations.  For a 7th grade student, it is never too early to teach note taking skills, personal responsibility in obtaining materials from multiple general education teachers, learning to enlarge last minute items on the school copier, mastering multiple ways of accessing materials in order to keep up with multiple teachers across various subject areas, and the list goes on. As you can see, it is very important to keep the future in mind as we work with our students, or children, with visual impairments today. Our goals must think many years into a student’s future.

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