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Teaching Students to Live Independently

Teaching Students to Live Independently

A new classroom offers real-life experiences


A newly renovated classroom at Brookhaven Learning Center now provides students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to learn to live more independently.

The space consists of a working kitchen and studio apartment, complete with a bed, washer and dryer, living room, vacuum, and other furniture. Students attend weekly lessons in this hands-on classroom to help them become more self-reliant at home. All instruction is geared to each student’s individual abilities.

Lessons include visuals, follow-up, and hands-on activities, which cover mixing, measuring; what belongs in the refrigerator, freezer and cabinets and the proper way to put those things away; how to use large and small appliances; how to use kitchen utensils; and so on.

Instruction also includes:

·         How to follow simple hot and cold recipes.

·         How to set the table.

·         How to vacuum, dust, sweep, mop.

·         How to make the bed and change the sheets.

·         How to sort, wash, dry, fold, and put away laundry.

“Is each student going to be ready for everything?” asked Nicole Drinkwater, principal at Brookhaven Learning Center. “No, but they are exposed to many life skills at school and have hands-on instruction about it so they may develop a level of familiarity with things in their own homes.”

Brookhaven Learning Center is an Eastern Suffolk BOCES school that provides a continuum of services for students with moderate to severe developmental disabilities. Students participate in a modified New York State Curriculum with an emphasis on life skills.