What are Accommodations and Modifications

By Dawn Spence

If your child has ever been in special education, you have probably have heard the terms accommodations and modifications. So now that you are a homeschooling parent, what do these terms mean to you? 

Sometimes these terms have been used interchangeably but they are different. They are both used to help the learner to access learning at their own cognitive levels, while highlighting their strengths. These tools will also help you if you have group time with all learners in your homeschool or if you teach at a co-op. Understanding and using accommodations and modifications helped me write my child’s IEP and also led me to use my current curriculum to meet my daughter’s specific educational needs.

The definition of an accommodation is giving your student a different way or path to complete the task or assignment. This is how we teach our learners. This does not change the grade level or material; an accommodation just allows your student the flexibility to be successful using their strengths and at the same time addresses their weaknesses.

Accommodations generally are broken down in the following five ways:
Time - giving more time to finish an assignment or more time to finish test
Alternative Scheduling - giving more days to finish their project
Change of Present Setting - providing a quiet place to complete assignments or tests
Change of Presentation - changing the way you present the material. You might use a video or a hands-on way instead of reading from a text.
Varying Response Method - allowing your learner to be able to complete a project instead of test or type a report instead of writing it out. Allowing for verbal responses would also fall in this category.


On the other hand, a modification is changing what we are teaching the learner and what they are responsible for learning.

Using a modification is reducing the amount of learning we are expecting our learner to be responsible for. Again we use the strengths the learner has to help them to be successful.

Modifications can be summed up in three major ways.
Presentation of Material - this would be using a special education materials or curriculums.

Adapted Materials - simplifying content and vocabulary. Instead of introducing 10 vocabulary words you would hold the learner accountable to only 2.
Grading and Testing Altered - instead of testing the whole lesson you would choose certain parts that are important for the learner to grasp.

This is the first part in a series where I will be taking different subjects and showing how to modify or accommodate lessons. If you have something you specifically would like for me to address as I write about these important topics, please post a comment.

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