Understanding the type of help your child needs in the classroom
Accommodation and modification are often used interchangeably, but they’re completely different in meaning and approach in the classroom. Knowing the difference between the two makes it easier for you to choose one or the other, or even both, as an appropriate learning support for your child. An accommodation aims to address the manner in which a child learns academics in school. For instance, when a teacher accommodates during the lesson, the focus is on how a learner will gain an understanding of what’s being taught or demonstrated in the classroom. Unlike an accommodation, a modification involves altering what your child is taught or expected to learn. We’re talking about adjusting the lesson or curriculum so that your child understands the central topic or message of the content, which will be different from their peers.
Who receives accommodations and modifications?
Like every child, yours has a broad set of skills and specific talents that are meant to be honed by effective educators in school. Solo Moms need to be wary of the one-size-fits-all style in education. It never works. Honestly, it’s a highly unfair approach to teaching any content to a learner. Children with special needs require specific methods for learning such as accommodation and modification in an approach to learning new concepts in the classroom. When this is the case, one way that school systems meet the variant needs of its learners is with an Individualized Educational Program (IEP). This program is developed through a meeting with the parent, child, special education team, and general education teachers. If your child has an IEP, certain accommodations and/or modifications are created so that nothing less than academic success is achieved in the learning environment. For more information visit, the Department of Education’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) page.
Accommodation and modification in the classroom
Whether learning happens through a lecture, technology, or visual aid in the classroom, the idea behind accommodation is that your child’s needs are always being met with the how factor in mind. Specifically, a teacher will consider questions like these: How do I assist a child during the learning process? Or how will I model a new concept so that the learner can apply it in a real world setting? A teacher must also regularly check for understanding through observation or a test to know if the accommodation is working for your child. Some other examples of commonly used accommodations include providing clear directions, rewards for positive behavior, and extended time during tests. However, accommodations in the classroom aren’t limited only to instruction. A quiet and organized classroom, one that allows for movement when the need arises for your child, is also an accommodation routinely used in schools.
Modification works differently in that it focuses on modifying what’s taught in the classroom. Let’s say a child who’s a struggling reader is required to learn grade-level vocabulary. For a child who doesn’t read that level, this can be quite difficult. The child will probably struggle to comprehend the words in context. With a modification, the teacher will simply choose a book on an easier level and use vocabulary that’s similar in meaning in order to help the learner get it. For instance, a teacher might use the word “throw” to replace “launch.” Modification allows for shorter assignments, grades based on effort, and open-book tests.
Advocate for your child’s needs
The best way for Solo Moms to ensure that their child receives the proper accommodation or modification in the classroom is to stay in regular contact with the head of the special education department and the child’s teachers. Familiarize yourself with the process of an IEP. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be when the time comes for a review of your child’s individual needs. You can request advance notifications for benchmark and mandated state assessments from your child’s general education teacher. Be sure to request that all correspondence be sent in a manner that is convenient for you and provide your current contact information to the school. Set up a time to visit the school and sit in for a class session or volunteer to be an aide in the classroom. Monitor your child’s grades through progress reports or online access to teacher grade books. Laws and regulations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) protect the rights of those who receive special services. Under no circumstances can a teacher fail a learner who has an IEP. When you spot a poor grade, immediately inquire about it and hold school officials accountable for providing quality and fairness in educating your child. Trust me when I say, teachers need your support with accommodations and modifications. Your involvement is essential to gaining a positive educational experience for your child.
Image via Shutterstock.com
Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.