The 9 Days of Holiday with the Expanded Core Curriculum: Compensatory or Functional Academic Skills

By Emily Coleman

(Editorial Note: The Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) is specific to children with visual impairments and intended to teach the skills necessary to access the core academic curriculum and to live interdependently throughout life. In honor of the holiday season, we're bringing back nine articles on ways to incorporate ECC skills into daily life, revised for the 2017-2018 holiday season.)

On the third day of holiday, the Expanded Core gave to me... compensatory or functional academic skills, social interaction skills, and orientation and mobility.

What Are Compensatory or Functional Academic Skills?

Compensatory or functional academic skills include teaching the skills needed for children who are visually impaired to access information and the world just like their peers without vision loss.

school-aged girl reading braille

As a teacher, the first thing that comes to mind is braille. However, this category also includes large print, optical devices, organizational skills, tactile skills, concept knowledge, listening skills, and even alternative ways to communicate. It's a big category that is easily incorporated into the holidays.

Here are a few of my suggestions for including it this holiday season:

  • Write a letter to Santa (braille or large print). Learn more about brailling a letter to Santa and receive a braille letter in return using BrailleWorks.
  • Have your child write a list of friends and family he wants to purchase or make gifts for.
  • Put braille on the Christmas or Hanukkah gift labels.
  • Add braille to your cards or simply have your child sign his name on each card in braille. You may even want to add pictures using braille dots as described in Adding a Braille Touch to Special Occasions.
  • Give the gift of braille or large print books for the holidays.
  • Your child can use his monocular to play iSpy with ornaments on the Christmas tree.
  • Have your child help you write a shopping list for a family dinner (in braille if needed).
  • If your child isn't reading yet, use a tactile marker for labeling his presents (ex. piece of sandpaper, a textured sticker, or even a small object or a certain bow).
  • If your child has a communication device, incorporate holiday activities through choices by letting him select a song to sing, music to listen to, or holiday treat to eat.
  • Create an accessible calendar of your holiday plans.

This is a huge area to cover and is done a lot at school. Your child’s teacher of students with visual impairments may make her own suggestions for incorporating these skills into the holidays. The compensatory or functional academic skills (including communication) are so important for learning and for your child to gain control over his life and environment. If you have more holiday suggestions for this category, please share!

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