by Jaimi Bird, M.A., CCC-SLP
Is your child struggling in school? Do changes need to be made? Perhaps there are learning accommodations or modifications that could be put in place to help your child succeed.
As educators and parents, we all share the same goals. We want each child to learn, to be successful, and to meet their highest God-given potential. Concerns or difficulties arise when a child is struggling in a traditional classroom. When a child is not having the success we need to determine what needs to be done to make them successful. Accommodations and modifications can be made.
Accommodations…are changes to HOW a child learns.
Modifications…are changes to WHAT a child learns.
Let’s talk about accommodations. Accommodations are changes to remove barriers and provide each child with equal access to learning. Accommodations do not change the content or lower expectations of what is to be learned. Accommodations can be made in 4 ways:
An accommodation in presentation is a change in the way the information is presented. For example, if a child has dyslexia, providing the reading material in audio format, rather than printed text, would be an accommodation in presentation. The material isn’t being changed, the change is just in how it is delivered to the learner.
A change in response is the way a child completes the work or shows us what they know. For example, providing a keyboard to a child who struggles with handwriting is a change in response. Another example of a change in response would be to allow the student to answer verbally rather than in writing.
An accommodation in setting is a change in the environment. For example, allowing a child with ADHD to take a test in a quiet room with fewer distractions would be an accommodation in the setting.
Timing and scheduling accommodation is a change in the time a child has to complete a task. For example, providing extra time on work for a child with slower processing speed.
Here are some accommodations that can be easily made in your child’s classroom.
Modifications are changes to WHAT your child learns. These are changes to what your child is taught or expected to do, simpler assignments or less work. Modifications should be made if your child is not able to complete the work at the expected level. Educators need to meet the child where they are at in the learning hierarchy so we can ensure that every child has the foundational skills in place before moving on to the next skill level. Modifications allow a child to master a skill prior to moving on.
For example, if a child is in 3rd grade and the class is learning multiplication, it would not be appropriate to expect a child who has not yet mastered addition to work on multiplication. So her work could be modified and she should continue to work on addition while peers move on to multiplication. Another concrete example of a modification is providing access to an elevator for someone in a wheelchair. It is not fair to expect them to walk up the stairs right? For it to be fair, they need an alternative route to get to the second floor.
Although we know teaching a child foundational skills is important, and our goal is to improve their skills as quickly as possible, you should be aware that modifications can be controversial. It is controversial since modifications CHANGE what the child is learning. Modifications, over time, can put students at a disadvantage because they will not have been taught important content that other children are learning. Over time, modifications could impact the child’s ability to meet standards for a particular activity or lesson.
Therefore, in addition to curriculum modifications in the classroom, I recommend families also seek additional support through tutoring, or specialized instruction outside of school, to help children bridge the learning gap. In a best-case scenario, you will not need to modify the curriculum for an extended period of time. Rather, providing extra support and learning opportunities will help your child get to their grade level expectations as soon as possible.
At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center we have individualized programming to help children meet their highest potential. Our goal is to help each child gain skills so that they are able to complete grade-level work as quickly as possible. We provide academic and speech-language services for children 2 years old to college age. We have individual speech-language therapy and individual math/reading tutoring. We also have a unique program called LEAP (Language Enrichment Academic Program). LEAP is a small-group academic program for children who struggle in school.
Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs. At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.
740 Community Drive, Unit A
North Liberty, IA 52317
5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300
Johnston, IA 50131