If you find yourself pulling your hair out to get your child to engage with on-line learning, it may be time to schedule teacher conference to discuss adjusting the accommodations.
What Are Accommodations?
To be nit picky about it, accommodations were created under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. You may have heard of Section 504 when students have 504 Plans.
While parents usually see Section 504 as special ed light, it is actually a very powerful civil rights law. One of its purposes is to empower individuals with disabilities to maximize employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, inclusion, and integration in state and federally funded organizations.
Students with in special ed with an IEP (Individual Education Plan) automatically receive 504 protections on top of the ones provided under IDEA.
Section 504 requires the institution to make “reasonable accommodations” that allow a person with a disability to be included in the regular activities. They are usually small, simple, and mostly inexpensive changes that an organization can make that allows a person with a disability to participate better.
At school, accommodations do not change the what of instruction. They change the how of instruction.
Teachers often refer to them as teaching strategies or classroom strategies. Each district has its standard list of the most commonly used strategies, but there no set or definitive list.
How Do I Know What My Child’s Accommodations Are?
If your child has a 504 plan, they should be listed in that.
For students with an IEP, they are usually listed immediately following the goal section of the IEP .
After you check your child’s current accommodation list, make sure that you understand how to use these at home to support your student. If you don’t know how, then email the teacher and ask them to coach you how to do it.
If there are physical items, for example a visual schedule or fidget, ask that the school send these to the home.
How Can I Add to My Child’s Current Accommodations?
For those under a 504 plan, send an email to
- the 504 coordinator for the school or district,
- the classroom teacher, and
- the principal.
Describe the difficulty that your child is having, and Request that the additional accommodation is added to the plan.
Unlike IDEA, Section 504 has no requirement for the school to include the parent in the planning process or the plan development meeting. However, the school should have provided you with a copy of your child’s plan. Once it’s updated, they should send you a copy of the new plan.
For a child with an IEP, request a teacher conference, explain the problem your child is having, and discuss the accommodation you’d like to add. Then email the diag, teacher, and principal and request an IEP amendment to add it.
An IEP amendment is a document allows the simple portions of the IEP to be changed without having a meeting.
You would not use an amendment to change something substantive like eligibility or placement. But adding one or two accommodations is a small enough change that an IEP amendment is fine to use.
Where Can I Find Ideas For Accommodations?
You can do a simple google search to find several resources with accommodation lists.
Some accommodations that would help kiddos who feel overwhelmed by the workload are:
General Class Accommodations:
- Frequent breaks
- Teacher notes or outlines to use to take notes on
- Check for Understanding of Instructions
- Work in progress check
- Immediate feedback
- Allow more time (5-10 seconds) to process teacher’s spoken directions
- Use literal language
- Chunk directions
- Small group instruction
- Visual Schedule possibly combined with a timer
- Visual Charts
- Special seat (if your child was using specialized seating or fidget toys at school, request that these be sent home to be used there)
- Learn content from an audiobook instead of print
- Use a larger print text
- Record a lesson instead of taking notes
- Classwork Accommodations
- Allow students to dictate answers to a scribe (you could use otter.ai, a free app which creates a transcript)
- Allow more time to respond
- Allow more time to complete an assignment or test
- Have a designated work area separate from every day activities that is organized and has minimal clutter
- Use a visual schedule
- Use an alarm to keep track or work/break time
- Use a planner
- Set a reasonable time for homework
- Lower the number of repetitious homework problems
- Shorten repetitive assignments
- Offer a child’s favorite activity after work is completed
These are only a few of the possible accommodations. Remember, the key is to instill in your child a love of learning. Everything else can be accommodated!
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