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Lesson for Time Management and Independent Living for Children With Disabilities

Tim Truzy is a rehabilitation counselor, educator, and former dispatcher from North Carolina.

Being organized in managing time and appropriate use of space during all events are key elements for success academically and in later years.

Being organized in managing time and appropriate use of space during all events are key elements for success academically and in later years.

We Need Our Time and Space

In order to achieve success during academic life and beyond, obtaining knowledge about one’s immediate surroundings and managing time are essential steps for young children, including those with visual impairments. A teacher working with students with visual impairments must explore these topics in several ways. Primarily, a teacher must be aware of how the loss of vision has impacted the ability of the student to access the visual environment. In addition, concepts regarding time must be explained and discussed, moving from the concrete to the abstract. Finally, experiences that unify knowledge must be provided. For these reasons, special education professionals called Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI) assist students with vision loss in grasping concepts through direct instruction.

One of my students asked an interesting question, motivating me to create this lesson. He inquired: “Mr. Truzy, I was watching a military movie on TV. One guy screamed the enemy was at three o’clock? I thought it was evening, based on what the other soldiers said. Was the sergeant not telling time right?” I saw an opportunity to teach about time management as specified in Compensatory Academic skills and Independent Living.

The lesson below focuses on areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) to address deficits in learning pertaining to Compensatory Academic Skills and Independent Living. These are two of the nine subject areas of the ECC. However, you may wish to conduct these activities over several class periods. Modify as appropriate for your student's comprehension level and your time restraints.

Key Components of the Lesson

  • Grades – Elementary school children.
  • Materials –Materials for this lesson included: a plate with a fork and spoon, a book bag, and a notebook
  • Vocabulary – The vocabulary words I included were: next, before, during, past, future, now, start, begin, finished, later. I also added: schedule, end, and priority.
  • Inclusion of Technology – For this lesson, I used a braille watch and a computer.
Thinking about what happens during the day helps with time management.

Thinking about what happens during the day helps with time management.

Phase 1: What Time is It?

The goal of this activity was to increase my students’ knowledge of time management in accordance with the ECC area of Compensatory Academic Skills.

I gave my students the vocabulary above, inquiring: “How do you keep track of time?” Here are the responses I received:

  1. I check my watch.
  2. I use my smartphone or laptop.
  3. I ask someone.

I directed my students who had technology to show the class how they applied the devices to finding out about the time of day. They did. I showed my students how to use screenreader technology on a laptop by navigating to the clock feature. (Screenreaders are software packages which help people with visual impairments access text and other items on the computer. Many such programs are free on the internet.)

I invited my students outside, noting the day and sunshine. Historically, I explained the importance of the sun for measuring time i.e., seasons, time of day, etc. (Every opportunity to connect the ECC with the standard curriculum must be pursued, which includes discussing historical facts.)

I said: “How do you organize your day?" This brought on silence. I asked my students to return to their desks.

We explored some daily activities aloud. The students mentioned: playing, eating meals, going to and leaving school, watching movies and listening to music. We discussed how using notebooks, book bags, and electronic devices for organizing helps with managing time more effectively. I talked about schedules and priorities at this point, reminding my students buses, their parents, and the school had schedules and priorities as well.

I passed around a book bag and a note book for my students to examine, offering suggestions on organization and time management.

Questions to Ask

At this point, I wanted to check for understanding and review. I told my students to help me choose the best of two options when they heard my statements:

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Read More From Owlcation

  1. I’m going to a movie, can’t homework wait?
  2. Hey!! There’s John. I’m going to chat with him before I get to the next class.
  3. Man, I'll listen to this new song by the Whatevers and then I’ll tune into the teacher. Mr. Truzy can wait. This song is a serious jam! (My students laughed at my ancient slang.)
  4. I can leave my notes on the desk and play this video game. I don’t have to put them away. Notes will take care of themselves.
  5. I’m going to read the Super Frog comic book, then I’ll do my homework.
  6. My students chose the right course of action each time.
People with visual impairments may use braille and/or talking watches to keep track of time.

People with visual impairments may use braille and/or talking watches to keep track of time.

Phase 2: Let's time it!

Next, I introduced the children to a large clock and a braille watch, like the one in the photo. The goal of this activity was to increase my students’ knowledge of managing time in accordance with the ECC area of Compensatory Academic Skills. I explained before clocks, watches, and smartphones could talk or were digital, people looked at hands on a clock or watch to determine time.

I showed my students how the hours and minutes were determined based on the long and short hands on the timekeepers. I let them explore the devices with their sense of touch. After discussing how time was measured on the devices, I asked them each to set a different time as I took the watch around the room. They were accurate with each turn.

We discussed how there was twenty-four hours in a day, divided into A.M. and P.M. I explained the military counts all twenty-four hours, with zero placed before numbers less than ten. My students kept saying: “At 3-30 P.M., or 15:30 hours, school is out.)

People with vision loss may use the concepts of how a clock is laid out when locating food on a plate.

People with vision loss may use the concepts of how a clock is laid out when locating food on a plate.

Phase 3: Give me Dinner on Time

Finally, I brought out a plate with utensils. The goal of this activity was to increase my students’ knowledge of living independently relevant to dining. I told my students to imagine the plate as a clock. I explained that sometimes people may use the roundness of the plate to help them find food applying the concepts of a clock.

I place the fork and spoon at different simulated times: 4 o’clock, 8 o’clock, and ten o’clock. Then, I allowed my students time to practice.

I asked: “What if I told you your potatoes were at 12:00? 6:00? 3:00?” They found the location of the imagined food each time.

After this exercise, I instructed my students to take the vocabulary words home and use them to write sentences. One student pointed out: “It’s time to go. Exit: two o’clock.”

The student who gave me the idea for this lesson walked up to me. He said: “Mr. T., The sergeant in that movie was telling his men the enemy was to the right. But I hope the food in the cafeteria doesn’t come flying at me at any given minute or hour.” Lesson learned.


Lydon, W., & McGraw, M. (1973). Concept Development for Visually Handicapped Children: A Resource Guide for Teachers and Other Professionals Working in Educational Settings. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

Lowenfeld, B. (1973). The visually handicapped child in school. New York: John Day Co.


Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on August 27, 2018:

Thank you, Jo. My wife and I love doing what we can for children who must face a world where creativity and resourcefulness are key components in surviving as adults in a world not designed for people who must deal with limiting mental, emotional, physical, or social abilities.

It's fun and challenging.

Much respect and admiration,



Jo Miller from Tennessee on August 27, 2018:

I think you must be a very special teacher.

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on August 26, 2018:

Thanks, Sean,

My kids are pretty special people. My favorite thing to do is give them just enough to think and find the answers. That's what I did with this lesson. Ultimately, I want to give my children the tools to continue to learn, long after they are done with school. I want them to be able to have the cognitive skills to satisfy their curiosity, fill in any gaps they may have, on their own.

Thanks for your appreciated comment.

Much respect and admiration,


Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on August 25, 2018:

My dear Brother, I am so blessed to know a luminous Soul like you and call you Brother! As a teacher for over 27 years, I know that the Love you put in your effort really can make a great change to the world!

Proud to know you!


Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on August 25, 2018:

One reason I was excited to write this lesson is that it gave me an opportunity to honor the men and women who helped laid the foundations for instruction of students with disabilities. Using concepts relevant to clocks for spacial relationships grew directly out of the military.

Many soldiers returning home from W. W. II applied what they had learned to activities of daily living. Often, these men or women were coping with disabling conditions. The whole field of orientation and mobility (O&M) grew out of these determined men learning to walk around with canes to their favorite restaurants or other locations. Indeed, they paved the way.

Much respect to them and you for reading,



Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on August 24, 2018:

Thank you, Pamela,

My heart is in this with these children. Historically, people and children who were different were locked away or hidden from sight because they were thought unworthy, even in some places they were assumed better off not alive.

I keep believing that maybe one of these lovable children will grow up to be like Hawkins, Wonder, Ray Charles or other people with disabilities who made a big difference in humanity. If not, I pray they contribute to society by being good citizens.

I appreciate your kind comment. I learn as much from them as they learn from me in any given day. It's what keeps the teacher/student relationship fresh and vibrant.

Much respect and admiration,

May your day be rewarding and peaceful,



Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on August 24, 2018:

Hi, Flourish,

You are absolutely correct. A few of the children I work with have low vision, meaning they have some residual vision. They enjoy the braille watch as much as my students who are totally blind.

Making fully sighted students aware of others' needs would help; if anything, such awareness increases sensitivity and empathy, allowing some of the societal prejudices which have persisted and still are prevalent to diminish over time.

When I can, I participate in guest lectures at my local universities and public schools to work with other professionals not in the rehabilitation or vision fields understand some of the challenges and accomplishments achieved by this population.

As you so wisely pointed out in one of your articles: people never know when disability can strike them or a loved one, so awareness is key.

As always,

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment on this article.

Much respect and admiration,



FlourishAnyway from USA on August 24, 2018:

It would be a good lesson in perspective to teach sighted kids the Braille watch and have them assume the role so they can empathize with the adaptations that others make.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 23, 2018:

Tim, I am so impressed with this article of teaching visually impaired students.It sounds like you involved the student using this curriculum to enhance their understanding, and it sounds like the most appropriate method.

I enjoyed your article immensely as I guess I never gave much thought to teaching visually impaired chidren. I think you must be an excellent teacher.

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on August 23, 2018:

Thank you, Eric. You always offer wise and kind words whether through your articles or your comments, and yes, you have a great sense of humor.

Your comment means a lot to me because these kids are precious and they need help in as many ways as possible without people being condescending.

I think the best comment I ever received from one of my students was that I let them be "kids."

Based on what I've read from your work, I know we share that spirit.

As always,

Much respect and admiration,



Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 23, 2018:

Tim this touched me on so many levels. What wonderful work you do. How special that you can apply curriculum and make it better , no much better.

You made me realize and remember how fortunate I have been to be able to work with our most intuitive members of our society. And how special their friends/adults are to walk the life through with them and not at them.

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