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pre-vocational tips special education

Teaching Pre-Vocational Skills Tips

Teaching students to work and live independently can be one of a special education teacher’s greatest challenges AND rewards! For students with disabilities, learning pre-employment skills are critical to increasing independence at home, at school, and in their community. Introducing basic working skills early, step-by-step, will allow students with disabilities to gain the tools they need at work, which in turn, increases their self-esteem and leads to overall happiness in their life! 

As students turn 14, Transition Plans should be incorporated into their IEP. Within the transition plan, students need to identify their career path and then teachers will need to scaffold learning tasks or pre-vocational tasks that measure the goals and objectives of the student's IEP. So, where to begin? Let’s start with helping students choose a career.

✧ Choosing A Career:

SkillsMatcher Questionnaire: This is an online multiple-choice questionnaire that rates a student’s ability across 40 different workplace skills. 

WorkValues Matcher: This online questionnaire helps students identify their ideal job based on their values. 

MyNextMove:  This online assessment is an Interest Profiler that can help students determine their interests and how their interests relate to the workplace.  

Now that we have an idea of what your students are interested in, let’s work on teaching them the skills they need to be successful in their careers. From Task Boxes to In-Class Interactive Presentations and “Virtual Work” Field Trips, your students can begin to learn the fundamentals of work. Here are some activities that are FUN and ENGAGING (Many of them also meet the goals and objectives of their IEP / Transition Plans!)

✧ Pre-Vocational Skills:

Job/Work Skills Collection: These are a collection of pre-vocational activities that assist students with reading community signs, identifying/counting money in a department store setting, or working in a variety of settings with scenarios. (There are differentiated levels available)

Task Card Boxes: These are GREAT ways for students to practice a variety of skills (Functional Reading, Functional Math, Work Skills) in small groups, independently, or in a “pre-vocational center”. 

Virtual Work / Field Trips: Take your students on virtual, interactive “work/field” trips where they can work on money skills, watch videos on how to complete a job task (i.e. make french fries at a fast food restaurant, or how to make donuts at a donut shop - just scroll down to Free Virtual FieldTrips). 

✧ How To Read Pay Stubs:

FormSwift: This is an online program that shows students exactly how to read a pay stub. There is even a FREE pay stub generator!

✧ Pre-Vocational Kits for the Classroom:

14 Pcs Kids Montessori Screwdriver Board Set, Wooden Screw Driver Activities Tools This is a GREAT fine motor pre-vocational kit that teaches the basic fundamentals of working with tools. My students LOVE This!

Transparent 4" x 6" Case with Handle - 16 Inner Cases Plastic Storage Container Box (Multi-Colored) for Task Cards This handy task card keeper helps ME stay organized! I color code the tasks (Blue for Math Tasks, Red for ELA Tasks, Yellow for Home Living Tasks, and Green for Work Tasks. I simply instruct the student to grab a (color) box and I can take data on the skill in the box as well as take data on how well they can follow instructions!

74 Piece Fine Motor Sorting Activity Kit This all-in-one kit is great for helping students sort by color using a variety of fine motor sorting tools. 

Are you looking for more information regarding IEP Transition Assessments? Here is a great article with 5 Outstanding tips and tricks to help with IEP Transitions from Caroline Koehler!

Be sure to drop in the comment section your favorite pre-vocational tool/skill that you use in your class!

Working Together,


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