Using Task Analysis to Teach Life Skills

A task analysis is a tool that is commonly used by professionals to teach important life skills. It is used as the basis for determining the approach to teaching the skill.

A well-written task analysis identifies a specific skill to be taught and outlines specific steps that the student needs to do to learn the skill. The task analysis is for the perusal of the teachers and staff who will work together to teach the child. 

The Benefits of Using A Task Analysis

A task analysis can be used to teach a certain life skill and monitor the child’s progress. Through the use of this tool, a task can be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps. The number of steps per task is dependent upon the student’s language and cognitive development. A student who has the appropriate language and developmental skills will require fewer steps compared to a student that might have learning and speech delays. Within this document are the goals and the ways in which mastery of skills will be measured.

Example of Task Analysis

The task analysis is not meant to be used by the student, but it should be written in such a way that it can be understood by the teachers, staff, parents, and other caregivers. Below is an example of a task analysis for a life skill.

Skill to be taught: washing hair

1.                  Student gets into the shower

2.                  Student turns on the water and wets his or her hair

3.                  Student will get the shampoo, open its lid, and place a penny-sized amount on the palm

4.                  Student will place the shampoo on the head

5.                  Student will rub the shampoo into the hair for 1 minute

6.                  Student will rinse the shampoo from the hair

7.                  Student will put the cover on the shampoo bottle and place it on the shelf in the shower

8.                  Student will get the towel and dry his or her hair

Some Considerations

In the interest of putting the child’s needs first, make sure to do a test run of your task analysis to determine whether it is appropriate or needs adjustment. Remember that each child might be at a different level of cognitive and/or physical development. Take these factors into consideration as you draft your task analysis. Add or remove steps as you see fit.

Final Thoughts

Creating a task analysis is an important tool that can be used to teach life skills. It should be customized to fit the needs of the student. The key is to make sure that the teachers, staff, and primary caregivers are aligned. Teaching life skills happens inside and outside the classroom, so the student’s support system must be on the same page about the skills to be taught.

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