The Life Skills Program at Alpha School a Special Needs School in NJ

Life Skill Programs at Alpha School

In addition to the academic programs at Alpha School, students are instructed in practical and functional living skills in order to prepare them to function appropriately in the community, work place and home. These programs include a multitude of areas such as self-care, pre-vocational skills, daily living skills, community-based instruction, and functional reading and math.
nj special education student at Alpha School learning office skills

Pre-vocational Skills

Pre – vocational skills are a large part of Alpha School’s occupational therapy related services curriculum. Students are exposed to a wide range of pre-vocational tasks encompassing beginner, intermediate and advance level tasks. Primary students learn to sort and package, while older students place materials in sequence to be assembled, working in a left to right progression. Students work on timed based task increasing their productivity and endurance. As students advance in the program they learn about various occupations and needed job skills. Students are actively engaged in the Vizzle Pre-Vocational Curriculum utilized at Alpha.


Career Exploration

Our students are encouraged to explore a wide variety of careers starting at a young age. Students are exposed to community helpers at the elementary level, and interests are gauged to determine a possible future plan as students progress toward the middle and high school levels. Once a student turns 14, they begin the transition services and work with the transition coordinator on an in–house job at first, then off-site work experiences. These off-site experiences include but are not limited to retail, restaurant services, fashion and clerical work.

learning life skills

Activities of Daily Living

Students at Alpha School are exposed to and encouraged to learn various activities that they will encounter in their everyday lives. From being responsible for their own belongings to making a bed, students get to practice these skills in Alpha’s ADL room. This alternative classroom offers students the opportunity to make a bed, vaccum, set a table and other skills needed to live in a home or apartment environment. The goal is to help foster a greater level of independence in the home and in the community.

community-based life skills being taught to special needs students

Community-Based Instruction

Our community based instruction goes hand-in-hand with our Transition Program. Students are afforded the opportunity to work at various local job sites to gain experience and exposure to different careers. Students can work in an office environment, food services, clerical work, clothing and retail, and other jobs in the surrounding community.

NJ special needs student learning to tie shoe

Self-Care Skills

Alpha School encourages each student to be as independent as possible, and this begins with students being able to care for their personal needs. Depending on the ability and age levels of students, they are able to practice self-care skills such as brushing their teeth, grooming, and basic hygiene practices. Students are instructed on self-care skills throughout the curriculum in Science, Health and through related service therapy sessions.

Special needs student enjoying puzzle time

Leisure and Recreational Skills

Leisure skills are an integral part of Alpha School curriculum. During this period of the day, students are able to discover things that they like to do in their down time. As a part of their everyday lives, students are able to socialize with friends, play games, surf the web (on safe and appropriate sites) and play video games with one another during their leisure period. If a student is unable to decide what they want to do, they are guided through a wide variety of safe, social and productive activities that they can enjoy in their free time.

Special needs student being taught functional math

Functional Math

Alpha School students are exposed to functional math skills throughout the school day, and through Alpha’s many different classroom businesses. Students practice working with money using real life experiences within the school building (ie, school store), and apply those skills when students go to locations on class trips. Students visit local stores and restaurants where they are able to make selections, calculate cost, exchange money for goods and collect change.

NJ Special needs student being taught functional reading

Functional Reading

Alpha students learn functional reading skills the moment they enter the school. Students are exposed to reading a schedule every day in their classrooms, along with a calendar and weather related information. Students continue to extend these skills through various trips into the local community and businesses, where they are exposed to various community signs, transportation schedules and menus.

alpha school student learning floor cleaning

Work-Related Behaviors

As students transition into adulthood, they are exposed to various job scenarios and work experiences. While attending the job sites and work sites, students are expected to uphold not only Alpha School’s expectations for behavior, but also the company’s work expectations. Students are directed while they work alongside classroom assistants and a job coach who is guided by the transition coordinator.

shopping skills learned at alpha school

Shopping Skills

Alpha School students are exposed to shopping/purchasing skills through the various in-school business and out in the community. The numerous Alpha School businesses allow students the opportunity to practice exchanging money for goods and collecting change throughout the school day. In addition, when school businesses need supplies, transition students go out into the community to purchase the goods that will be used. The students often create a list, take the list to the store to find the desired goods, and purchase those goods in a realistic setting.

cooking class at alpha school for special needs students

Cooking Skills

Each classroom at Alpha School provides the opportunity for students to practice their cooking skills. Through a collaborative approach with the classroom and therapy staff, students are instructed on various levels of cooking skills which they will need to be successful in their independent lives. Students learn how to make simple recipes with a few ingredients to full-fledged meals, as they progress through their time at Alpha School. High school students participate in a Culinary Arts Class.

student learning laundry life skills

Laundry Skills

Alpha School provides opportunities to practice life skills that students will need in their lives, such as laundry. Students have the opportunity to wash, dry and fold clothes, towels and other items in our on-site washer and dryer. Learning these skills will be helpful throughout a student’s entire life and will help to increase their level of independence.