5 Questions to ask your Learner when Navigating their Accommodations
When it comes to accommodations, parents and educators tend to take the lead. As experts in their fields, it's no surprise that they're ready to take charge and implement strategies that they're used to. But, what if the strategies and accommodations that work best for the average kid, aren't working for yours? Well, that's where the idea of empowering your learner comes into play.
We at Empower, believe that learners of all ages are capable of understanding and verbalizing what their strengths are and how to tap into those strengths. It's our job, as coaches, to help them navigate understanding and verbalizing them so that they can advocate for themselves and find the accommodations that work best for them in any given situation. So how do we do it? It's easy… we ask them.
Just as teachers are experts in their field of study, students are experts in their field: learning. Here are 5 questions you can ask before any accommodations meeting to empower your learner and support them in advocating for what they need to be successful.
Tell me about a time when you felt most successful during your school work.
Note: Listen for things like what supports or scaffolds may have been in place for a project. Get curious about the details of assignments or the environment. What was going on? Who were you working with? What did the task look like? Make a note of any trusted adults who were part of the process - they can be a resource in any accommodation meetings as well.
When you're working in a group, what helps you feel most successful?
Note: Listen for what might be needed when your child is feeling overwhelmed or in sensory overload from the social component of work. What was allowed that provided flexibility? What provided structure? What types of assignments are best completed with groups? Make a note of any classmates that were involved in the group activity that may contribute to a safe work environment.
When you're working alone, what helps you feel most successful?
Note: Listen for things like types of assignments, that may have supported their ability to avoid distractions. What was the seating space like? What coping strategies were readily available? What types of assignments are best completed alone? Make a note of these influences to see which supports create a successful work environment.
Which classrooms do you feel like you do your best work in? What happens in there?
Note: Listen for things like structure, classroom culture, freedom, and rigidity. Does your child need more or less structure? Does the content influence the quality of work? Make a note of which subjects/environments support the way your child's brain works.
Which teachers help you feel most supported and successful? Can you describe what they do that helps?
Note: Listen for things like culture, demeanor, personality, and past experiences that might make these trusted adults important to your child. How does this teacher behave differently than others? What have they done that makes them feel more trustworthy or supportive than others? Make a note of how other teachers might be able to form this same connection with your child.
Each of these questions provides insight into your child's experience and can contribute to their IEP/504 meetings. Anything that they list as what worked well for them can be translated into accommodations in the classroom. Remember your child knows how their brain works best, and with the right questions, we can help them flourish in their learning!
If you're looking for individualized support navigating any of these 5 things, or anything else related to accommodations, reach out for a free consultation! I work with parents who want support in helping their children receive proper accommodations.