The Sochi 2014 Winter  Olympics is in day five so there’s lots of talk in the media about what’s going on in the various Winter Olympic sports.  Yesterday I was listening to a local radio station, probably CBC Radio 1,  and I heard a someone ( sorry, didn’t catch the name) say that kids participating in sports and losing can teach kids valuable lessons. The speaker noted not everyone who participates in sports wins, in fact, the vast majority of people who participate in sports lose. He thought losing in sports could help kids learn how to deal with defeat. To be honest, I hadn’t considered participating and losing in sports a learning opportunity- other improving technique, strategy and trying harder. I did think about how losing in sports could teach kids something about entitlement: just because you participate in sports doesn’t entitled you to win.  I don’t think the trend to not keeping score when kids participate in sports and thereby not have winners and losers is especially helpful.  What does it teach kids?  How does that prepare them for life?

I think additional learning opportunities present themselves when  kids participate in sports and lose: kids have the opportunity to develop their emotional intelligence, their  ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. Emotional intelligence includes

  •  managing one’s own impulses
  • having empathy for others
  • communicating effectively
  • solving problems
  • using humor to build rapport
  • remaining optimistic in spite of stresses
  • managing change

What’s the big deal about high emotional intelligence? Why is emotional intelligence worth developing? Individuals with high emotional intelligence are able to make better choices for better consequences in life and at work and are better able to achieve a balance between work, home and recreational life.

As I write this post, I’m beginning to see the teaching opportunity I’d have and the learning opportunity my students would have when they  lose or for that matter when they win when participating in sports. I could help them develop their emotional intelligence. I could help my students who win become more empathetic toward my students who lose. I think I could help my students learn to manage their own impulses, remain optimistic in spite of losing, and so on.

Maybe other losses students experience could also be teaching and learning opportunities.  I guess the thing is someone has to be there when students experience losses and help them deal with their  losses in such a way as to strengthen their emotional intelligence. I want my students to be able to take something positive away from any losses they experience. I want my students to be able to make the best possible choices for the best possible outcomes in their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

TTL Cover 3For most of my teaching career, I’ve been teaching my special needs high school students strategies to enable them to help themselves to graduate from high school. I’m always extra proud of my special needs students  when they walk across the stage at graduation and receive their high school diploma. They’ve made it. They’re ready for the next phase of their lives.  But are they? Are they really ready for the next phase of  their lives as start up adults  simply because they’ve earned a high school diploma? 

Susan Traugh a mom of a special needs student and an advocate for special needs teens and their teachers recognized from personal experience simply because students graduate from high school they aren’t necessarily well prepared for life after school.  Susan wrote Transition 2 Life  to help teachers help their students better prepare themselves for life after high school.  I think Transition 2 Life is an excellent resource because it helps students develop the practical skills they need in an engaging way to successfully navigate their way through their daily lives.

I invited Susan to tell us about herself because I think Transition 2 Life is an excellent resource to help students better prepare themselves for life.

 

Susan Traugh- author of Transition 2 Life

Like so many parents of special needs teens, I was frantically fighting to help my son get through his high school classes so he could graduate and get a diploma.  Matt was really struggling to pass his math and science classes and my husband and I spent many hours every night trying to eek out those last few test points that might put him over the top.  Housework was secondary to homework, and we didn’t push him to get a job or do much community service as we put all our energy into class work.

When he graduated, we were ecstatic and felt like a major hurdle had been crossed.  And it had.  But as the weeks and months passed after high school, we realized that, while Algebra was important to get that diploma, balancing a check book or being able to read a map in order to drive to the bank were much more important in life.  And, we found that we’d been so focused ON graduation that we hadn’t supplied him with the life skills he’d need AFTER graduation.

Matt’s special education teacher also had a son Matt’s age and realized she, too, had focused on class work to the exclusion of life work.  So, we set out together to find a life skills program to help our boys.  As we looked, we found that programs were either written for teachers with lots of theory and educational jargon, or they were written for “children” without respect for a teen’s maturity and sensibilities.  The more we looked, the more dissatisfied we became.

But, the real impetus for action came with one frantic phone call.  I picked up the phone to hear Matt’s panicked voice.  His brain injury had destroyed the spatial skills center of his brain and made it hard for him to keep “a map” in his head.  We’d gotten him a GPS and he’d agreed to only drive within our city.  We thought we were covered.

But, on this night his GPS had failed. Matt had tried to find his way home and, when he got turned around, panicked and ended up making a left-hand turn into oncoming traffic.  When he called, he was stopped in the middle of the street, facing the wrong way.  He knew he was close to home (less than one-half mile away) but didn’t know how to get there.  I had him pull into a parking lot to calm down then talked him all the way home.

I called Matt’s teacher the next day and began writing my own curriculum.

Transition 2 Life was developed to give mild-to-moderately affected special needs teens a program that they can work on independently, modify to their own needs and then walk away with a portfolio that they can use during the first few years of their young adult life to navigate that transition.  Written on a third-grade reading level, it has light, airy pages with lots of bullet points and a font and pictures selected by the students who piloted the program.  And because I know how hard Matt’s teacher works each day, the program is teacher-friendly, with built-in grading sheets, federally mandated goals tied to the lesson plans and pre-printed parent letters so she can let folks know how they can help their teens at home.

Units include lessons on understanding their own Individual Education Plan (IEP), learning styles and career aptitude, writing resumes and business letters, using an ATM machine and balancing a budget, filling out job and college applications, advocating for themselves, and answering the phone.

And, yes, there’s a unit on transportation and how to get around in your home town…or around the country.

The program has been enthusiastically accepted here in California and, in fact, teacher requests have prompted us to write another series, called Daily Living Skills, which creates more in-depth units on basic adult skills such as grocery shopping, house cleaning or meal planning.  All books are sold at: www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Susan-Traugh.

It’s hard keeping all the plates spinning when you’re the parent (or teacher) of a special needs student.  Things that other parents can take for granted must be taught, and taught thoroughly, to our kids.  But, there are rewards.

Matt just took a 600 mile road trip with his sister to Utah.  Before he left, he came to go over the map and verify he knew the directions.  But, after reassuring himself, they got into the car, full of smiles and self-confidence, and went on their way.  Now, that’s a life skill.

For most of my teaching career, I’ve been teaching my special needs high school students strategies to enable them to help themselves to graduate from high school. I’m always extra proud of them when they walk across the stage at graduation and receive their high school diploma. They’ve made it. They’re ready for the next phase of their life.  But are they? Are they really ready for the next stage of life simply because they’ve earned a high school diploma? 

 

Susan Traugh a mom of a special needs student and an advocate for special needs teens and their teachers recognized from personal experience simply because students graduate from high school they aren’t necessarily well prepared for life after school.  To help teachers help students better prepare themselves for life after high school, Susan wrote Transition 2 Life.  I think it is an excellent resource because it helps students develop the practical skills they need to successfully navigate their way through their daily lives

 

I invited Susan to tell us about herself because I think Transition 2 Life is an excellent resource to help students better prepare themselves for life after high school.

 

Susan Traugh- author of Transition 2 Life

 

Like so many parents of special needs teens, I was frantically fighting to help my son get through his high school classes so he could graduate and get a diploma.  Matt was really struggling to pass his math and science classes and my husband and I spent many hours every night trying to eek out those last few test points that might put him over the top.  Housework was secondary to homework, and we didn’t push him to get a job or do much community service as we put all our energy into class work.

            When he graduated, we were ecstatic and felt like a major hurdle had been crossed.  And it had.  But as the weeks and months passed after high school, we realized that, while Algebra was important to get that diploma, balancing a check book or being able to read a map in order to drive to the bank were much more important in life.  And, we found that we’d been so focused ON graduation that we hadn’t supplied him with the life skills he’d need AFTER graduation.

Matt’s special education teacher also had a son Matt’s age and realized she, too, had focused on class work to the exclusion of life work.  So, we set out together to find a life skills program to help our boys.  As we looked, we found that programs were either written for teachers with lots of theory and educational jargon, or they were written for “children” without respect for a teen’s maturity and sensibilities.  The more we looked, the more dissatisfied we became.

            But, the real impetus for action came with one frantic phone call.  I picked up the phone to hear Matt’s panicked voice.  His brain injury had destroyed the spatial skills center of his brain and made it hard for him to keep “a map” in his head.  We’d gotten him a GPS and he’d agreed to only drive within our city.  We thought we were covered.

            But, on this night his GPS had failed. Matt had tried to find his way home and, when he got turned around, panicked and ended up making a left-hand turn into oncoming traffic.  When he called, he was stopped in the middle of the street, facing the wrong way.  He knew he was close to home (less than one-half mile away) but didn’t know how to get there.  I had him pull into a parking lot to calm down then talked him all the way home.

            I called Matt’s teacher the next day and began writing my own curriculum.

            Transition 2 Life was developed to give mild-to-moderately affected special needs teens a program that they can work on independently, modify to their own needs and then walk away with a portfolio that they can use during the first few years of their young adult life to navigate that transition.  Written on a third-grade reading level, it has light, airy pages with lots of bullet points and a font and pictures selected by the students who piloted the program.  And because I know how hard Matt’s teacher works each day, the program is teacher-friendly, with built-in grading sheets, federally mandated goals tied to the lesson plans and pre-printed parent letters so she can let folks know how they can help their teens at home.

            Units include lessons on understanding their own Individual Education Plan (IEP), learning styles and career aptitude, writing resumes and business letters, using an ATM machine and balancing a budget, filling out job and college applications, advocating for themselves, and answering the phone. 

And, yes, there’s a unit on transportation and how to get around in your home town…or around the country.

The program has been enthusiastically accepted here in California and, in fact, teacher requests have prompted us to write another series, called Daily Living Skills, which creates more in-depth units on basic adult skills such as grocery shopping, house cleaning or meal planning.  All books are sold at: www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Susan-Traugh.

It’s hard keeping all the plates spinning when you’re the parent (or teacher) of a special needs student.  Things that other parents can take for granted must be taught, and taught thoroughly, to our kids.  But, there are rewards. 

Matt just took a 600 mile road trip with his sister to Utah.  Before he left, he came to go over the map and verify he knew the directions.  But, after reassuring himself, they got into the car, full of smiles and self-confidence, and went on their way.  Now, that’s a life skill.

           

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