A lot of time and effort goes into choosing the exact right accommodations to help your child in the classroom. Sometimes you even have to fight for them, even though they usually don’t cost the school any money. Even with all this careful consideration, they are simply a line on a form if the teachers do not actually use them.
Parents must babysit the teachers…
In my experience, it’s the parents job to make sure teachers implement accommodations. In my book, Special Ed Mom Survival Guide, I have a whole chapter called Babysit the Teachers. Might sound corny, but the truth is, nobody at school oversees the general education teachers to make certain they are implementing accommodations. The case manager is suppose to do this, but he or she is usually overwelmed with not only many cases, but their own classes that they teach. It really is up to the parents to make certain that their child is receiving the accommodations they need.
This is why I created this worksheet.
It is in Microsoft Word so you can edit to add you child’s information, and share with the teachers WHY this student needs this extra support. All you have to do is download the worksheet, review the sample text, and then replace it with your own text.
The accommodation worksheet is separated into 5 sections:
- What are your child’s presenting challenges?
This is where you put in detail how your child struggles in the classroom. Does he have executive function problems? How does that show up? Does he have difficulty sitting still? What behaviors indicate this is interfering with school? You need to go through each challenge your child has in school, and write specific information describing how the problem manifests in the classroom.
- Match accommodations with challenges
Once you have outlined the challenges, then you cross-reference them with the accommodations. So in the right column of the sample you will see that each challenge is a headline, and under it is all the accommodations that are meant to help. It is important to write the accommodations exactly as they are written in the IEP. Note that one accommodation may be listed under multiple challenges because it is used to address a variety of difficulties.
- Goals for the school year
This does not have to be complex. Outline what you see are the goals for your child this year. What is he or she going to work on in order to improve in school. These are not tied to the IEP goals, but instead goals you have for your child that will help your child move towards more independence in school. They can be tied to IEP goals if they relate to the accommodations provided (e.g. self-advocacy goal because child has difficulty asking for accommodations).
- Most important things the teacher needs to know about your child
If the teacher reads nothing else (and some won’t read any of this), hopefully they will read this section. It highlights for the teacher the most important aspects of your child’s school experience. What do you want the teacher to know the most in order to support your child?
- Strengths, Interests and Passions
This section helps the teacher see where your child excels, and maybe how to use some of those strengths in the classroom. It also helps the teacher get to know your child as more than just a student in the classroom.
I would highly recommend printing this sheet and making sure a copy is delivered to each teacher. If you have a high school student, you should write the sheet with the student and have him or her deliver it to the teacher. In my book, Special Ed Mom Survival Guide, I provide a step-by-step process for teaching your child to self-advocate. Helping the student become aware of accommodations is one of those steps.
While many teachers are too busy to read IEPs, if you present them with a sheet like this, you have a greater chance of them reading it. Also, it puts all the teachers on notice that you know what supports your child should get, and now you know that THEY know. It means no excuses down the line if the teacher does not provide accommodations. Many teachers will bluster and say they didn’t know. They cannot say this now.
Once you have your accommodations worksheet complete, be sure to put it into your IEP Binder so you have it as a reference during meetings. If you don’t have all your IEP paperwork organized in an IEP Organizer, check out The Ultimate IEP Binder Tool Kit, a downloadable PDF that will help you get organized!