There is no single right way to set up Active Learning activities for older learners.  Their individual preferences and developmental level should be taken into consideration, as well as the family's priorities.  As an individual enters his or her teen years, families typically begin to think about what's next.  Where will their child live?  How will he or she spend the day?  We hope you'll explore some of the ideas for transition services when thinking about this stage of life.

Building a life takes some thought as most adults know.  We have a need to be engaged in meaningful activities, interact with others (especially those we love), and to have time for rest and relaxation.  Once an individual leaves school it usually falls upon the family to help that individual build a life that is rich and satisfying. Active Learning can (and we think should) continue long after school is finished.  If you want to get some new ideas listen to this interview with Joe Gibson who runs an outdoor activity program in Norway.

Allowing Time for Independent Exploration

The videos below show an older learner who is ambulatory.  He enjoys opening and closing different types of doors, and also loves to swim.  In a number of the videos, you will see him exploring different types of doors:  metal and wooden gates, a refrigerator door and a car door.  He is learning an enormous amount through his exploration.  Concepts such as open and close, in front/in back of, up/down, heavy/light are some of the comparisons he is able to make through his expermentation.  These are foundational cognitive concepts, which form the basis for spatial awareness (a critical component of orientation and mobility), mathematics, and science.  In addition, he is developing communication skills, saying "open" and "close" and by requesting certain items in the refrigerator.  These skills also promote independence and the development of functional skills in the natural context.

The two swimming videos present an interesting comparison between adult-child interaction and independent exploration.

Dean Opening a Wooden Gate

Description: Dean Opening a Wooden Gate. This video is open captioned.

Dean Opening a Wooden Gate

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

 Dean Opening a Refrigerator Door

Description: Dean Opening a Refrigerator Door. This video is open captioned.

Dean opening refrigerator door

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Dean Opening a Metal Gate

Description: Dean Opening a Metal Gate. This video is open captioned.

Dean opening a metal gate

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Dean Opening a Car Door

Description: Dean Opening a Car Door. This video is open captioned.

Dean opening a car door

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Dean in the Pool Swimming Pool

Description: Dean in the Swimming Pool. This video is open captioned.

Dean in the swimming pool

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Dean with Swimming Instructor

Description: Dean with Swimming Instructor. This video is open captioned.

Dean with Swimming Instructor

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Functional Activities

As a learner gets older, there is typically an increasing focus on functional activities.  This may include self-care, as well as independent living skills.  Inviting the young person to do chores around the house and participate in cooking activities, when possible.  Making popcorn, operating a microwave, spinning lettuce, and grinding coffee are some things that could be incorporated into the home.  Helping to wash dishes, put laundry in the washing machine, help to recycle, water plants, and care for pets are other ideas of functional activities for older leaners.  See our page on activity ideas for older learners.

Dean Using a Coffee Grinder

Description: Dean Using a Coffee Grinder. This video is open captioned.

Dean using a coffee grinder

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)


Thinking About The Future

It is important to begin early when planning for the future.  Once your child leaves school, where will he or she go?   How will he or she spend the day?  How can you help to build an Active Learning approach into adult life?

Parent Sarah Lundgren shares her plan for her son's life after the age of 22.

dean 22

Click to download the PDF.