When your child has completed high school and plans to attend college, technical school, or job training, what will she need to accomplish independently at home in order to take care of herself? Consider these general tasks.

  • Personal hygiene: bathing, combing hair, dressing, shaving, applying makeup, feminine care
  • Shopping for groceries, clothing, and home/personal items
  • Meal preparation and cleanup
  • Health management: maintaining a healthy lifestyle, medication use, emergency responses
  • Financial responsibility

If all this feels enormously overwhelming, fear not. The goal for a grade schooler is certainly not independent performance in advanced skills. Instead, the goals are slowly familiarizing your child with the tasks and expecting increased independence over time.

For example, a young grade schooler should be taught the purpose of budgeting money, the future prospect of shaving, a broad range of cooking techniques, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Meanwhile, she may only be expected to use an envelope system for saving allowance, understand the concept and safety concern of razors, use a toaster and spread butter on the bread, and to participate in a team sport.

If she is slowly made aware of all that is involved in self-care, she can ease into independence instead of being surprised with a shaving lesson in high school when she didn’t realize a razor existed.

You may find it beneficial to read through these tips for developing self-care skills in children with visual impairments.

  • Talk with your child about your daily self- and family care.
  • Invite your child to explore self-care items.
  • For ease of learning, break down each task into small, sequenced steps.
  • Incorporate organization into the task sequence. Items should be kept in a consistent location.
  • Ask yourself (and your child) if the task can be made accessible or simpler with labeling, restructuring the process, using various assistive technologies, or adapting your home.
  • Help your child set her own self-care goals and focus your teaching on one task (e.g. hair care) at a time.
  • Help your child understand the value and purpose of each task.
  • Teach while your child is challenged but not frustrated.
  • Don’t be surprised if she regresses in other skills as she is learning a new, complex skill.
  • For the sake of safety, begin teaching the use of appliances with the power off.
  • Your high expectations are essential to your child’s development of personal responsibility. Expect your child to accomplish for herself all that she is capable of accomplishing. Of course, there can and should be exceptions, such as lovingly making breakfast for your child on occasion or cleaning her room together while having good conversation.
  • Provide realistic feedback as your child learns self-care skills.

For more information on teaching self-care skills, read FamilyConnect’s article, “Teaching Your Child Self-Care Skills.” For guidance in teaching self-care skills from the perspective of your child as a future worker, read “Marketing Yourself” (a lesson plan focusing on presenting oneself to a potential employer).

Provide your child with the knowledge and skills to market herself well to future potential employers by teaching her to take care of her cleanliness and presentation.