Beliefs and Assumptions
One way to think about community participation is for a student to ask “What supports will I need to access the things in my community that are important to me ? What skills would be useful to have in order to take care of my everyday needs?”
From Minnesota Department of Education
Making the Transition Team Work
When teaching takes place in the environments where the skills naturally occur, the difficulties in generalizing skills from simulated to natural environments are minimized. Community environments frequented by the student and his or her family now and in the future should be the environment used to directly teach.
From Community Based Curriculum
by Mary A. Falvey
The focus of instruction in the area of community instruction is to enable students to access their community to their fullest. The purpose of community participation is to provide students the opportunities to acquire and to use the skills necessary to interact with a variety of situations frequently demanded in a variety of natural environments. Community participation is one priority area that allows students to practice and use skills learned in all areas like personal safety, resource management, math, read-view-listen and writing etc. and makes learning more meaningful to the learner.
Community participation goals vary with pre-school/toddler, primary, intermediate and secondary/transition students. For the younger students (pre-school/toddler, primary) some of the natural environments they can access include their homes, school settings, day care centers and public recreation facilities. For the older students (intermediate, secondary/transition) the natural environments include the local community where they can practice skills from all domains in shops, restaurants, public libraries, health clubs, movie rental and theaters etc..
Community participation is not an isolated skill to be taught only at school. It should be paired collaboratively with involvement and efforts from family and group home by teaching the students to use the natural materials available in the community. When teaching takes place in the environments where the skills naturally occur, the difficulties in generalizing skills from simulated (artificial) to natural environments are minimized. Community locations frequented by the student and his/her family now and in the future would be the ideal settings used to directly teach.
The teachers have the responsibilities to frequently create and provide opportunities for students to access, explore and practice the skills that are required for them to interact competently in the community. No student is excluded from community experience/ interactions. Adaptations can be developed to assist students to feel more successful in community performance. All students can still actively participate in the community at some level (i.e. partial participation). When accessing the community, an appropriate student/staff ratios (small number of students) would result in better learning and interaction. Infrequent and unprepared trips to the community with large number of students would often overwhelm the business people and community members and be an undesirable context for learning for students.
Community participation has an adult outcome emphasis. The final goal is for the student to be as productive as possible in utilizing the service and accessing the community he or she lives in. Regardless of age/grade and ability, students should be prepared for the challenges of life after they graduate. It is crucial that students be taught the skills both in the school setting, as well as his home and neighborhood to access their community which directly contributes to and enhances their quality of life.