Have you noticed that when you make very simple supportive changes for your child, they tend to perform almost 100% better on a task or learning a new concept? That’s exactly how accommodations should work!
Accommodations are changes to a child’s learning environment, curriculum format, or educational equipment that allows a student easier access to educational content.
Accommodations remove barriers to learning but do not change what a child learns; instead they enhance a child’s ability to keep pace with curriculum requirements. For many kids, the key to success with learning lies in having the appropriate accommodations.
Here’s an example of how an accommodation is intended to change how your child is learning and not what your child is learning:
Meet Lexi. Lexi is a very bright 12-year old taking a History Survey course in a local homeschool co-op class. She was diagnosed with a visual impairment as a young child so she struggles to see a typical 12-point font printed material.
As an accommodation, the instructor and Lexi’s mom might team up to provide Lexi a print version of the text with larger font, a slant board, and a seat right under the best lighting in the room. With these simple adjustments, Lexi can learn alongside her peers without her vision challenges getting in the way.
Notice that none of the accommodations made the class easier for Lexi, yet the accommodations removed a barrier to her learning.
How do I know if my child needs accommodations?
The good news: you as the parent get to decide if and what your student needs. It may be as exciting as it is challenging trying to decide what accommodation is right for your child and might fit best within their learning routine.
There are no concrete rules concerning which accommodations are allowable for which disability. If your child ever received a formal diagnosis, you may have received some recommended accommodation(s). That’s a great place to start!
(And if your child struggles with learning but you aren’t sure why yet, you can discover more with our parent checklists and suggested resources here.)
Types of Accommodations
Keep in mind that the goal of accommodations is to give your child an opportunity to show what he or she knows while limiting the impact of the disability. Accommodations are commonly grouped into these four main category types:
- Presentation: A change in the way information is presented to your student. Examples include:
- Providing audio books and having your child follow the text while listening
- Providing summaries of chapters
- Using marker to highlight important textbook sections
- Providing your student with a list of discussion questions before reading
- Providing books and other written materials in alternate formats such as Braille or larger print
- Response: A change in the way your student completes assignments/tests. Examples include:
- Using worksheets that require minimal writing
- Using fill-in questions with space for a brief response rather than a short essay
- Letting your child use a tape recorder to dictate answers
- Providing access to a word processor, alpha smart, or similar device
- Providing adaptive writing tools, pencil grips, or a slanted surface
- Allowing your student to dictate a writing assignment
- Setting (Classroom Environment): A change in the environment where a child learns. Examples include:
- Keeping workspace clear of unrelated materials
- Keeping the learning environment (home or co-op classroom) quiet during intense learning times
- Posting a visual schedule on your child’s desk
- Allowing your child to take frequent movement breaks if needed
- Providing headsets to block noise
- Providing organizers for desks
- Timing and scheduling: A change to the time your student is allotted for a task. Examples include:
- Alerting your child several minutes before a transition from one activity to another
- Providing additional time to complete a task
- Increasing wait time for responses
- Providing a visual timer
- Allowing changes in schedule without prior planning
Personalizing accommodations to my child
Accommodations are intended to be important tools for removing barriers in learning. As you consider the list of common accommodations and which supports might help your child be successful, it’s important to remember that there is no particular accommodations for certain disabilities, but you as your child’s parent-teacher must match the accommodation to their learning needs.
If you are wondering whether your child is benefiting from an accommodation you’ve been trying—or which accommodation(s) might fit them best, HSLDA’s Special Needs Educational Consultants can help you with advice and resources. We’re homeschooling moms with years of experience and training in specific educational areas and we’d love to hear from you.