Community-based instruction is an awesome opportunity for students ready to leave their school site and practice their independent skills in a variety of real-life settings. But, what about your students who need more than the typical classroom environment but are not quite ready for a community outing? A great middle-ground can be mock rooms or spaces that mimic the community opportunities your students are working toward accessing. Where I work, we are beginning to build spaces that our students can access to grow their life and job skills, while still in an environment that can support their unique behavioral needs. Our goal is that these vocational spaces will help our students to generalize their classroom skills in a new environment that will prepare them for their first community based instruction trip in the future!
Our mock living space features a bed to practice washing, drying, and dressing the bed neatly. There is a variety of drawers in the space to that are pre-labeled to help students sort clothes and living space items. A table, chairs, tv, and decorations help to make the space feel like a real bedroom. With a bathroom, laundry space, and kitchen nearby, students can practice a variety of life skills without needing to be in a real home-setting.
The space features desks, chairs, and shelving that is different than those found in the classroom. There are sorting bins, labeled task boxes, and a variety of materials for tasks that students can complete. The room is made to provide a space to work on beginning trade skills, resume writing, independent tasks, and other activities in an environment that is different from the classroom. This provides students with a room where they can practice generalizing skills they already have, but in a new environment.
One of my favorite things about our program is that I get to work with so many talented and highly qualified individuals. An incredible idea one of our BCBA’s designed was a program in which students could write and send letters to staff and students (all students are ready and approved by staff before sending!) The hallways were provided designated street signs allowing students to practice labeling envelopes based on the room number and street sign of the classroom to which they’re trying to reach. This created a miniature town within our school for students to learn to navigate! The post office allows for a place for students to sort mail and prepare for deliveries. This vocational activity provides students a chance to practice writing, addressing envelopes, finding designated locations, and meeting new people, and is very inexpensive to get set up.
I hope that these spaces give you inspiration to create a vocational area in your classroom. If creating a space isn’t possible for you yet, check out the Life Skills Bundles (Household & Community) for a variety of interactive materials to help your students learn about environments outside of their classroom.