Transition Curriculum Sequence

Are you thinking of what to teach to help your special education students transition smoothly into life after high school?

The transition field is relatively new in the US so many teachers need guidance about what to teach. If you’re reading this, you might have some of these questions:

  • You’re about to teach transition or high school students
  • School’s about to start and you’re already feeling stressed and worried about what lies ahead
  • You have no idea what skills to teach and how to teach them
  • You haven’t established an organized and effective schedule for your transition class
  • You need a ready-made detailed outline that can save you lots of time while still being able to adjust the content to suit your student’s specific learning needs

When I started as a new Transition Teacher, I had no idea where to start. I wasn’t given any curriculum, but was told to fill the day for my students with meaningful life skills & vocational opportunities.  I definitely wish I had a guide in transition planning so I didn’t feel so lost.

Now that I have experience teaching and running a transition program as a Transition Specialist, I want to help special education teachers who are new to the world of High School or Transition.


What is a Scope and Sequence?

A “scope and sequence” is a term that’s used to describe the concepts and ideas that will be covered in a curriculum.

Scope refers to the certain skills or lessons that you will teach your secondary students and sequence is the order in which you teach the contents of your scope.

This is essentially a tool that guides the teachers to know what to teach and in what order to teach the content.


Why is a Scope and Sequence important?

We know how the transition to adulthood can be challenging for many young people, especially those with disabilities.

That’s why we need to be thoughtful about transition planning. It’s very important to provide an effective and efficient transition curriculum to our neurodivergent students.

Having a scope and sequence guide is essential for transition planning because it can be intimidating knowing WHAT to teach (and when).

Following a scope ensures that we cover all that our transition students need to learn to meet their IEP goals and be ready for adulthood. It also helps us in organizing lesson plans and maximizing our schedule, ultimately leading to student success.

What Skills Do You Teach and When?

Any transition curriculum for high school special education students should be focused on transitional skills. These are life skills that our students with disabilities need to transition to independent adults.

The students need these skills for furthering their education, employment, and independent living.

There are so many life skills, job skills, and social-emotional skills to teach students, and it’s helpful to have a reference guide so we know what to teach and when.

You can get the Transition Roadmap Scope & Sequence here along with links to other ready-made interactive lessons, templates, and activities. Keep reading to learn about the 6 essential skills to teach in any Transition Curriculum!

6 Essential Skill Areas to Teach

Let’s talk more about the transition skills that your special education students should learn. Below, you’ll see an example of the transition curriculum skill areas I like to focus on.

Community Skills

Community Skills will help prepare your students to feel comfortable and safe navigating the outside world. 

You can start by teaching the concept of schedules, dates, and time. Then, proceed to learn about the places in the community and how to travel around the community using different kinds of transportation.

Finally, don’t forget to teach consumer skills like grocery shopping or going out to eat.

Household Skills

It’s also important to teach students how to increase independence in their home environment. When teaching household skills, note that they may also overlap with other skill areas like money management and physical health. 

Some examples of household skills to teach include:

  • Meal planning
  • Food prep and cooking
  • Laundry
  • Recycling
  • Cleaning
  • Home safety
  • Independent living
Physical Health

Another domain area to teach is the broad area of physical health. This supports the students in understanding how to take ownership of their own health and teach autonomy.

If you need a place to start, begin by teaching about personal hygiene. What are the basic vocabulary for grooming and what are the good habits?

Next, teach about medical health, nutrition, and more complex concepts like gender and sexuality.

Managing Money

Of course, another important and practical topic for special education students is financial literacy skills. It’s necessary for their everyday life.

When you’ve given your students a good foundation of financial literacy, they can fulfill different life goals like saving for their expenses, spending wisely, and budgeting for their future!

Topic domains to teach include:

  • Basic Money Math
  • Budgeting
  • Making purchases
  • Banking and credit

Along with life skills, you should teach your special education students about managing their social-emotional health.

Let them get to know themselves better by teaching self-awareness, self-advocacy and self-management. This includes teaching students more about neurodiversity & disability awareness.

Help them build good relationships with others by teaching about social interactions, how to resolve conflicts and respecting boundaries.

There are a lot of lessons to include in this area, but make sure you stick to simple lessons that are attainable and presented in fun and interesting ways.

Finally, if your student’s goal is to have a job, internship or work opportunity after high school, it’s essential to teach vocational skills.

You can increase your students’ success in finding the right career path and maintaining employment by teaching pre-vocational and job readiness skills.

An effective way to do this is to start by assessing your students’ interests. You can assess students with fun Vocational Would You Rather inventories, or using a Picture Supported Vocational Inventory meant for Assessments. This will play a big role in their career exploration. 

Once you’ve helped identify the career path they want to take, you can then proceed with teaching about the skills needed to land a job and work efficiently.

Keep Organized by Following a Roadmap!

There are so many options of what to teach your transition students. The list I’ve given you is actually quite short. But be careful not to get overwhelmed by these endless ideas.

Remember that your units of focus will depend on your students’ needs; you can build your own curriculum map for the year by using this guide in conjunction with your students’ IEP goals. 

You can get the Transition Roadmap Scope & Sequence here!