Top 7 Accommodations and Modifications to put in place for home school assignments:
*Printed work: screen work or using new technology (like trying to complete assignments on a student’s phone instead of the computer they have at school) may layer in a new challenge for your child. If at all possible, print work for your child to complete on paper, if new or difficult technology is required. Students can take a photo of the completed work and submit it to the teacher. Teachers are learning distance teaching right now too, so they’re probably pretty open to many ways of receiving work right now. If not, reach out to your case manager for support in allowing this accommodation.
*Copying problems in math. If math assignments require your child to copy the problems onto paper from a screen or book, that is adding a real tricky issue for a lot of kids. If your child struggles with attention, short term memory, or visual processing, requiring the transcription of problems is setting them up for frustration and mistakes. Instead, see if you can print the problems or even copy them down yourself. At the very least, check that your child is transcribing them correctly and allow your child a break after they’ve written the problems before they have to attempt to solve them.
*Allow a calculator or visuals for math. Using references and going back to learning materials with questions reflects deeper, more intrinsic learning. It is unrealistic to assume one read of a text or viewing of a lesson means we’ve learned everything. So, if your child looks back for an answer or using a tool like a calculator, celebrate it! That’s real-world success, smart learning—not cheating.
*Read math questions, assignments, or writing prompts aloud for your child. If your child has a learning challenge that impacts his reading, the challenge will be present in every class and assignment, because reading is required to understand what to do. You can support your child by reading the directions or math problems aloud or having technology read it to them. I know Microsoft ReadAloud is a free download that will read screens to you. Students’ school technology, like ipads and laptops, may already have this feature on them. Ask your child or case manager.
*Extra time: I don’t anticipate teachers giving timed assignments or tests, but if they do, be aware that your child’s IEP or 504 plan may allow for extra time for your child per task period (like double time for tests) or per assignment (like extended due date). This accommodation works because it allows some wriggle room for a child with learning challenges to get help and to process through the task. I often relate that learning disabilities are like having traffic in your brain. You can get to the destination, but you may need a new route or at least some time to get through traffic. (In fact, I wrote an article for Edutopia about how to use this analogy when talking about learning disabilities with kids. I’ll put a link in the blog post for this episode, or you can just google “Kesty Edutopia.”)
*Visuals and extra time to support auditory lessons: Here’s two incompatible (but true) facts: the most common processing disorder is auditory processing disorder, ie it’s most common for kids to have a hard time learning by listening only. Also true is the fact that most teaching is done in a lecture format—the teacher talks, the students listen and learn (as much as they can). The best ways to support students with auditory processing challenges are to increase visuals and allow extra processing time. If your home school lessons are provided as videos from a teacher, encourage your child to pause the video from time to time to summarize what he has learned so far, to ensure he is having a chance to process the new learning. Also, if the video has the capacity to add captions, turn those babies ON! Being able to read along with the lesson is incredibly helpful for kids!
*Organization: One of the initial hurdles you and your child will face is organizing the new digital space. Teachers use so many different learning platforms, like Google Classroom, One Note, Canvas…that it can be tricky to know where to go to find what lessons. Then there’s the process of turning in work, which is an extra hurdle at the end, like the warped wall in Ninja Warrior. To help, I’ve created a document that you can use to write down the platforms, file formats, and work returning processes required from each teacher. You can find the document in my blog for this episode at sarahkesty.com/blog/episode15.