Accommodations are changes that make it easier for your child to learn. They don’t change what your child is learning. They change how your child is learning. It’s a way to make sure your child’s learning and attention issues don’t get in the way of showing what he knows.
What Accommodations Are For
Kids with learning and attention issues may need to learn material differently than other kids their age. Accommodations are designed to give kids ways to learn and demonstrate knowledge of the same material as other kids their age.
For example, if your child has trouble with writing, the teacher might let him give answers to a test verbally. This doesn’t change the test your child is taking. It changes the way he demonstrates what he knows.
Accommodations don’t lower the expectations for what kids learn. They don’t change what kids are taught or tested on. Instead, they support kids’ ability to learn well in the classroom and show their knowledge on tests by removing obstacles.
Types of Accommodations
Accommodations can involve changes to various things related to learning. Here are four categories of accommodations.
- Presentation: A change in the way instructions and information are presented. Example: Letting a child listen to audiobooks instead of reading a text.
- Response: A change in the way a child completes assignments or tests. Example: Allowing a child give spoken answers instead of written ones.
- Setting: A change in the environment where a child works. Example: Allowing a child to take a test in a separate room with fewer distractions, or in smaller group.
- Timing and scheduling: A change to how much time a child has to complete a task, or being allowed to take breaks. Example: Providing extra time on tests for a child.
Different accommodations are helpful for different kids. It depends what they’re struggling with. Take a look at common accommodations for kids with learning and attention issues.
How Accommodations Work
If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan, accommodations are written into the plan. With your help, the IEP or 504 plan team decides on these formal accommodations. They’re “formal” because the law says they must be followed.
“Accommodations don’t lower the expectations for what kids learn.”
Sometimes you and the teacher can work together to put informal accommodations in place without an IEP or 504 plan. These can include things like repeating directions or letting a child sit somewhere else in the classroom (such as away from a noisy door).
If you’re thinking about pursuing special education services, informal accommodations could be a way to start figuring out what helps your child in the classroom (and what doesn’t). If your child doesn’t have an IEP or 504 plan, you can find out if he might be eligible for special education services.
What to Watch Out For
Just because an IEP or 504 plan lists formal accommodations doesn’t mean they’re always followed in the classroom. It’s important to keep tabs on what’s happening at school and to make sure the accommodations are being used in a way that isn’t upsetting to your child. Explore tips to make sure your child’s IEP or 504 plan is being implemented properly.
It’s also important to understand when an accommodation is supposed to be used. For instance, if your child is supposed to get extra time to complete tests longer than 30 minutes, then that applies to all tests—not just standardized tests. If your child’s access to an accommodation is being reduced or denied, take a look at these ways to respond.
Keep in mind that accommodations are not the same as modifications. In general, accommodations change how your child is learning. Modifications change what your child is learning.
When used correctly, accommodations can give your child a better chance of showing what he’s learned so he can succeed at school. It’s important that your child’s accommodations are tailored to his specific needs. These needs may change over time as he masters new skills, faces more challenging work or gains access to new technology.