NC TEACCH Home Structured Work Sessions

Many parents wish to work with their children in the home as they see it being done in the classroom. These suggestions will help you get started. Working closely with your child's classroom teacher will help in choosing appropriate work materials and thus, reinforce what's happening at school.


North Carolina TEACCH program

Structured Work Sessions in the Home


  1. If possible, establish a predictable daily routine.  This means doing the same type of activity in the same place at the same time each day.  Keeping this routine will help your child anticipate what to expect.

               a. Choose an area that is relatively quiet and free from distractions.

               b. Set aside 20-30 minutes, 2-4 times during the day, when      interruptions will be minimized.

               c. Use the same work area every day so that your child will learn to associate that area with work.  This area should probably be located away from routine play areas – a special place for a special kind of activity.

              d. Define the work area visually by arranging the table and chairs in a corner of a room or a corner created by a wall and some higher furniture.

              e. When your child is sitting at the table, position yourself across from them so that you can smile, talk, touch and tickle, and give praise when they are doing their work.

 2. Work Routine –

             a.  When it is time for work, give your child a transition object such as a slinky, that indicates “work time”.  Provide a designated place at their work area for them to put the slinky as soon as they get there, or have them place the slinky in the “finished basket” and then sit down.

             b.  Present work materials so that your child works from left to right.  Use a  "finished basket” to their right.  The “finished basket” is used to give children a visual cue that an activity is completed.  When a toy or activity goes into the basket, it is finished and cannot be taken back our during the work session.

            c.  Present a task in such a way that the ending is visually   clear.  For example, when all of the pennies have been put in the cup and the container that held them is empty, the task is finished!  Place the work to your child’s left and encourage them to do it independently.  Offer help when needed but keep in mind the goal is always for greater independence in the performance of the task.  Every bit of help you offer will need to be phased out in order for your child to be independent.

          d.  To clearly signify the completion of an open – ended play activity, such as bubbles, tap a bell a few times, saying “all finished” and put it in a basket.  If it is an activity that is also used as a motivator during the work session, put it in a basket other than the “finished basket”.  Remember, what goes in the “finished basket” should not come out again.

        e.  During the work session, keep instructions simple and clear.  Use the same words for the same instructions (“take one”, “put in”, “match it”, etc.).  Using hand gestures and occasionally a guiding hand will sometimes help your child focus on what is being asked.

       f. Typically, approximately 10-15 tasks are presented during a work session.  A reward can be provided for completing the work tasks.  The tasks and reward should be visible so that your child develops an understanding of the contingency “first work, then play or get a treat”.

     g. If your child becomes distracted by seeing too many materials at one time, may be helpful to hide materials until it is time to present them.

     h.  Most of all, make work sessions fun for both you and your child!



Independent work



This is one example of how Shoebox Tasks can be presented to your student or child.  The teacher positions her/himself to the right and behind the student, offering assistance only when needed.  The goal is for the student to perform all aspects of the work system independently, leaving the teacher free to work with other students.  The teacher can also be opposite the student as described in this home work session.  Everything else remains the same. The concept of independence is an important one for students to learn.  Each student in a TEACCH classroom has an Independent work station where they practice doing activities learned during 1:1 teaching.



Recommended beginning activities for Structured Home Teaching Sessions


A. 2-Way Sorting Task

 Place 2 empty containers in front of the child.  Demonstrate by placing a different object in each container, then match one of the objects, saying “match”.  Use hand over hand guidance, if necessary.

B. Stacking Beads On A Dowel

 Place the wooden dowel that is set upright in an inverted shoebox in front of the child.  Handing one bead at a time, say “put on” (demonstrate, using hand over hand guidance if necessary).  When all the beads are on the dowel, the work is “all finished” and goes in the finished basket.  Progress to stringing beads for greater challenge.

C. Clothespins on Coffee Can

Place a coffee can in front of the child.  Put one clothespin over a shaded area on the edge of the can.  Hand the child a clothespin and have them do the same.  As always, “finished basket” when work is completed.

D. Film Container Sort 

 Place 2 coffee cans in front of the child, one with a round hole cut in the lid, the other with a slit in the lid.  Take one film container, remove it’s lid and put the container and the lid in the appropriate cans.  Then have the child do it by handing them the containers, one at a time.  When the task is completed, work goes in the “finished basket”.

E. Pop Bead Pull Apart and Put In 

 Have the child pull apart 2 large pop beads and put the single pieces in a big open container.  As always, finished work goes in the “finished basket”.

F. Take Apart and Two Way Sort 

 Place the box with a round hole and narrow slit cut in its top in front of the child.  Hand them the cardboard square with the clothespin attached to it and tell them to “pull apart” and then “put in”.  Hand the child the card in such a way that the clothespin is on the side that the round hole is on.  If necessary, use hand over hand guidance to insure success, working towards the goal of the independent accomplishment of the task.

G. One and Two Piece Insert Puzzles 

 Place an empty puzzle board in front of the child.  Handing him a puzzle piece, say “fix it” or “put in”.  When all the pieces are in the puzzle is “finished”.

H. Color Match 

 Place two trays in front of the child, each with a different colored disk attached.  Hand the child a colored disk and tell them to “match it”.  When all the disks are matched, work goes in the  “finished basket”.

Additional Suggested  Activities

A. Simple Put-In Jobs 

          -Drop foam cubes through a large slot into a container

          -Put pennies into a slotted container

 B. Take-Apart and Put-In Activities 

          -Pull apart segments of 2 Legos and put the single pieces in an open container.

          -Pull large wooden beads off a pipe cleaner and put them in a container.

          -Take apart tinkertoys and put the single pieces in an open container.

 C. Take Apart Activities 

          -Uncover objects by grasping and pulling off the cover (e.g. Socks over bottles).

          -Remove big beads from a spindle (one at a time).

 D. Pegboard 

          -Take plastic pegs out of a rubber pegboard and put the pegs in an open can

 E. Stacking 

          -Stack 6 rings on a peg (use a simple stack toy and give the child the rings in the right order).

          -Stack large thread cones.

 F. Clothespins on Box 

          -Remove old-fashioned wooden clothespins which are placed on the lilp of a box and drop them into the box.

          -Do the same with plastic clothespins (spring type) on a plastic container.

 G. Play Doh 

          -Encourage and guide the child to touch, press, pull apart, roll, poke, squeeze, etc………………

 H. Shape Sorter 

           -Hand the child wooden (or plastic) shapes and have them drop them through the appropriate slots in a sorter.

 F. Lego Stack (Duplo)

          -Affix a blue rectangular duplo and a red rectangular duplo to a cardboard surface.  Have the child match and stack other red and blue duplos as you hand them one at a time.



















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