Special Education School Embeds IEP Goals into School Store Program

At the Watson Institute’s family of special education schools, teachers and support staff strive to embed students’ IEP goals into daily activities in the classroom. One initiative born of this effort is the School Store. The School Store has been set up in the school cafeteria at the Education Center South and opens to students every Friday. Each week on Friday morning, students from various classrooms visit the student cafeteria to peruse the selection of treats and toys. What sets the Watson Institute’s School Store apart? It’s run by our students!

Each week, students with special needs from classrooms at the Education Center South in Bridgeville, PA sign up for a job at the store. Students can be greeters, cashiers, baggers or work the picture book. Everyone that works gets “paid” with a preferred item from the school store’s shelves.

School Store workers are given the opportunity to practice social, academic, and functional skills through their participation and they are accompanied by teachers, therapists or support staff who can help them work on specific IEP goals.

Specific IEP goals vary for each student; some students may be working on fine motor skills such as reaching and bagging items.  Handing the bag to the student shopper may serve a fine motor and social goal. Another social goal may include greeting the shoppers using communication skills.  Social skills may include greeting the shoppers using verbal communication or an adapted communication device like an iPad or Tobii, they also have the chance to work on peer interactions and developing eye contact.

 Special Education & IEP Goal Work

Students at the Education Center South special education school have made great progress towards their IEP goals.

Tyler, (pictured above) for example, has made incredible strides working on communication through the School Store program. He has been working at the school store since it’s beginning at the Bridgeville special education school as a greeter, using his eye-gaze communication device to welcome his peers. Tyler has demonstrated excellent progress with independently greeting students and has even used his device to independently ask to go to the school store throughout the week!

The School Store doesn’t just offer opportunities for students with special needs who work the program, the preparations for the store also offer learning experiences and activities to work on IEP goals.

Watson Institute staff members, Erin Davis, an Occupational Therapist, and Jackie Logan, a Speech Therapist, coordinate the inventory counting and restocking of the School Store throughout the year. As the inventory starts to run low, Jackie and Erin coordinate community outings with student workers to local stores such as Sam’s Club and Aldi to purchase needed items. When they return with their items, Lindsay Lippert, an Occupational Therapist, works with students to label them using color-coded dot stickers.

These outings provide a great opportunity for students with special needs to practice their skills out in a community setting.

“The School Store has provided many opportunities for success to many of our students.” shared Jackie Logan. “All of the students who participate in the School Store are proud of the work they accomplish and enjoy coming to work each week.”

Do you want to learn more about the Watson Institute’s family of special education schools? Check out our programs and read more about how special education staff embed IEP goals into students’ daily activities!