This year Wildwood School  is incorporating a new type of curriculum designed especially for students with developmental disabilities called Essential for Living. It is a comprehensive curriculum that looks at functional learning and places a great deal of emphasis on providing real world settings for learning.

     “Essential for Living teaches skills that will really matter in a student’s life. Skills like communication, daily living and tolerating necessary situations related to health and safety are the focus. Working on them in the situations that they will naturally occur in students’ lives is important,” Pam Baker, Wildwood School’s Instructional Coach, says.

     EFL is a comprehensive curriculum, assessment, and skill tracking strategy. It is designed to be used by teachers, teaching assistants, speech therapists and behavior analysts together in a unified methodology. EFL focuses not only on skills but also on limiting problem behavior. 

     “The system focuses on what EFL refers to as the ‘Essential Eight’. These skills are things like expressing needs and wants, waiting, accepting no, transitioning, responding as a listener and safety skills.” Pam says. “These are skills we all use every day in our lives.”

     Language and communication skills are an important part of the curriculum, especially for students who are non-verbal. EFL focuses on helping students find a communication style that they can use for their lifetime. 

     “EFL focuses not only on what to teach, but how and when to teach those skills,” Pam says. “It also provides a system for tracking the skill development in students so progress can be effectively measured and teaching strategies can be adjusted to meet student needs.”

     Pam Baker is coordinating the implementation of the EFL curriculum. It can be considered an extension of the Common Core Standards and is consistent with the ACE curriculum already used at school. EFL fits perfectly with the existing methods and its use is intuitive for teachers who are new to it.

     “We are starting slowly with EFL because it is new. We are incorporating it throughout the day through different disciplines; teachers and TA’s, speech and language therapy and OT and PT. We are very excited about it,” Pam says.

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