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I scheduled Will to participate in an Outschool class. (Check out, you won't be sorry). He was to use logic and prior knowledge to escape from the Museum of Natural History virtually. He assumed this was a video experience. I had told him virtual. What I neglected to explain was that it was also interactive. With people he didn't know. Via computer communication. This situation is not ok. I knew he would have an issue. But, I didn't think of it at the time. Thankfully, the scheduled class time corresponded with podschool time, and I have two back-ups in Mack and Sawyer. Both of them were more than willing to take Will's place at the helm of the experience.

I was easily able to make this accommodation for Will. This is not always the case. Sometimes, he must do the scheduled activity. Sometimes, he must interact with those he doesn't know. I make accommodations where I can so that when he must stretch, he hasn't used up his abilities to mask.

I make accommodations for Sawyer too, so he doesn't have to always fight his dyslexia to accomplish tasks he can otherwise do. I might read instructions and sentences where he must identify grammar or tenses. He already has to read each day, so if I can help his brain relax and rest in one area while taxing another, he will be more successful.

With homeschooling, I am able to make many changes to the requirements for each student. Social Studies and Science are discussion based without additional reading assignments. I can adjust assignments depending on who's doing them, and what my goal is for the assignment. Classroom teachers have a very different set of needs and abilities. When there are more than 20 students, each with different needs, a common set of requirements is necessary. Students who need extra help are often moved to a different room with specialized teachers to meet that set of specific needs. There might be different homework sets for different levels of students. Reading groups are frequently used to ensure students reading similar books are able to discuss them and share experiences.

Differentiation is challenging, though. The expectation is often that students of similar ages are capable of similar tasks and can complete them in similar ways. We know no two kids are alike. They all learn differently. A room of 20 kindergarten students will have 20 different learning need combinations. While some may be similar--kinesthetic and visual or auditory and visual, the overarching need is for different accommodations for different students.

504s and IEPs are critical to the successes of students who need more than classroom adjustments provide. This visual may help you figure out which one your student might need. Remember, schools are required to assess students at a parent's request. They may fight about providing additional assistance, though. And, that help comes at a cost to the district, which makes some schools more resistant and less able to rise to the need.

IEP and 504 differences. Let me know if you need help figuring what is right for you. Your child's teacher can help too.

As always, reach out with thoughts, questions, concerns!

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