Junior High and High School Years
Your child is now an adolescent—attending a school that is probably larger than his or her elementary school and definitely more complex in terms of getting around and interacting with a broader group of teachers and fellow students. Both the academic and social experiences are going to be more challenging. They are also going to have a greater impact on your teenager's future.
This is a time when all adolescents, whether visually impaired or not, begin to move beyond parental guidance and want to make more decisions for themselves. It's a natural, positive impulse toward independence; you'll not only have to curb your urge to be protective, but urge others in the family to do so.
You also have to work closely with your teenager's teachers to be sure they have the same high expectations you have for his or her academic success in standard core curriculum requirements and, in addition, be certain they support the expanded core curriculum considered essential for students with visual impairments.
These are the basic subjects and recommended number of years of study for any student who plans to go to a 4-year college:
- English—4 years
- Mathematics—3 to 4 years
- History—2 years
- Social studies—2 years
- Science—2 to 3 years
- Foreign language—2 years
Expanded Core Curriculum
This is a set of skills intended to enable students who are visually impaired to become independent, confident, and capable in pursuit of higher education, jobs, and a wide range of personal relationships. It focuses on skills that are disability-specific. It must be taught sequentially and systematically to students who are visually impaired in conjunction with the core curriculum for all students, and includes the following:
- Visual efficiency skills
- Compensatory or functional academic skills, including modes of communication
- Orientation and mobility
- Social interaction skills
- Independent living skills
- Recreation and leisure skills
- Career education
- Techniques for teaching children with additional disabilities
One of the goals of all teenagers is to become increasingly self-sufficient. During the high school years it's particularly important for your teenager to develop and expand skills such as:
- Independent travel—long cane, dog guide, bus, subway, etc.
- Reading—including braille, large print, and electronic books
- Using technological devices—Kurzweil reading machine, electronic braille, low vision aids such as viewscan, etc.
- Recreation—this is a key area to devote some time to because it often involves a sport, game, or other group activity that builds physical agility, competitive spirit, and sociability.