Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Sign in to follow this  
klmama

ADA accommodations at homeschool co-op

Recommended Posts

If your co-op has provided accommodations for a student with significant learning disabilities, how was that handled in the classroom?  Please share any success stories and any precautionary tales, as well.  We want to get this right.  

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm. Not sure how severe, but I can share what my son's teachers do for him. He has very severe dyslexia along with some other learning delays. I can go into more detail in a PM if you'd like. It's nothing super major, but he'd definitely have an IEP if he were in a public school classroom. 

Some things his teachers do for him:
- take pictures of notes on the board and email those to him, so he does not/is not expected to copy the entire thing during class (writing/copying is painfully slow for him)
-allow me to scribe his work (he's 14, 8th grade)
-allow him to abbreviate answers on in-class tests, quizzes, etc. (Ex: His history class had to memorize US Presidents one year, States/Capitols another; his teacher let him write just initials on the Presidents, so GW, TJ, AL, JA, etc... If there were 2 with the same initials, he'd put Ja or Jo to indicate James or John)
- allow him to bring home in-class tests/quizzes to complete (or any other in-class work that involved a lot of writing) w/o penalty for "late" work (he would draw quietly at his seat in those cases)
-allow him to draw comics instead of write paragraphs, if he wants; he doesn't always use this, but he has at times
-allow me to send in notes excusing him from certain assignments if I deem it necessary, &/or to make on the fly changes if needed (ex: if he has to write a 2 page report, I will either help him and let the teacher know I helped, or we'll reduce it to 1 page, and I let the teacher know, or sometimes both of these things; he can do creative writing very well if he can dictate &/or type, but factual reports are very very difficult for him)
-allow me to give his at-home tests in whatever manner he needs. So, we don't full on "cheat" and use his book for things, but we may do things orally, I may talk him through process of elimination in figuring out answers (if he answers wrong I do not correct him), or we may answer what we can, close the test, open the book, review again, close the book, open the test and answer the rest. 
-up until last year, we did everything orally (I would read to him, read him the questions from the homework, help him find the answer if needed/reread him the section with the answer, write down his answer). Late last year he started doing some of it on his own (reading/answering the worksheets); his teachers are fine either way

This year, we learned of an iPad app that can help with worksheets; we haven't started using it yet but if we find we need to, I do have permission from his teachers to send him to class with a non-internet enabled iPad that he would be allowed to take out for this purpose only (the co-op does not allow the kids to keep their phones in class). The app lets you take pics and then write/type on the worksheet. How the teachers would handle this is that they'd send an email, with my permission, to the parents letting them know "a student in class has a learning disability and needs to use an app to complete worksheets; please explain to your children that this student's iPad use in class is strictly for this purpose and is not recreational" (or something to that effect). We also discussed possibly having him turn it in to the teacher and her pass it out to him when she passes out the worksheets. 

If needed, I think we could work a similar thing w/recording the class, but that hasn't been necessary. 

He is graded according to the same standards.....but at the same time, his teachers know him and have had him for years and do take his abilities into account. We aren't to high school yet, so I don't actually record grades anyway, but I'm happy with the way his teachers grade things and expect that to continue, so....

We've been really pleased with how everyone handles it, and the other kids have been great/understanding. I just discuss with any new teacher (he has had the same 2 teachers the past 5 years, so only this year is he adding some new teachers) his abilities and limitations, and let them know/make sure they're okay with the accommodations we need to make. I've not had resistance yet, thankfully. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For most issues, it's worked out between the parents and the teacher.  It would be typical to maybe do shorter reports, allow things to be typed or scribed, have them partner with a student to get a copy of notes, etc.  I'd be willing to allow certain assignments to be skipped.  For physical accommodations, we do what we can but are limited by the building.  We are not able to provide an aide as they would in a school setting, but parents (or I'm sure another approved adult) are allowed to be present if needed for physical or behavior issues.  We have a few students with mobility issues and I'm sure they're allowed to slip out early or arrive a bit late to avoid crowds in the halls.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I pulled my DS from a private Christian 6th grade classroom, and that experience was extraordinarily jarring.  When DS started attending co-op, I allowed him to only participate in PE.  His first “academic” class was a Latin roots class with a former bio-chem engineer that we knew well from church.  Prior to class, we sorted all the accommodations.  If I had thought for a moment that there would be push back of any kind, DS would not have participated in the class.  

What was odd was that she placed disruptive boys on either side of my son hoping that my son would be a positive influence.  That is classic by the way.  Use a behaved child to encourage good behavior instead of dealing directly with a classroom menace.  I had to speak with the teacher and the boys’ mother to make bad behavior stop because the boys started harassing my son when the teacher turned her back to write on the board.  And it happened for weeks until DS told me.  In the co-op setting, I have found that classroom management is not always a strength.  If your student is highly distractible, be sure to stress the seating arrangement ahead of time.

The only other problem we had was with devices.  During lunch, a younger student would dig into my son’s backpack and grab his laptop and play keep away with it.  DS started hiding his backpack in the building and never told me about the boys stealing his laptop.  One day, I happened to arrive early during lunch and witnessed son’s laptop being used like a football.  I called all the parents with students involved and asked them to speak with their children.  The fear of replacing son’s electronics put that behavior to an abrupt end.

Son took classes all through high school and never had any more problems.  He completed all of the same work as any other student using a laptop, smart pen, and extra time. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for these stories and tips.  We want this student to have a good experience at our co-op. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

“Significant” can be subjective.  Our co-op has some students who attend with their own aide.  We’ve also requested that some parents attend and/or volunteer in their student’s classes.  That’s by our definition of “significant”.

For less severe issues, which I think of as “learning differences”, our teachers will do just about anything a parent asks to accommodate their students.  Parents, teachers, and directors work together to come up with new solutions as-needed.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

“Significant” can be subjective.  Our co-op has some students who attend with their own aide.  We’ve also requested that some parents attend and/or volunteer in their student’s classes.  That’s by our definition of “significant”.

For less severe issues, which I think of as “learning differences”, our teachers will do just about anything a parent asks to accommodate their students.  Parents, teachers, and directors work together to come up with new solutions as-needed.

This is what our group does.  however many local groups will not accept any students with learning disabilities so you will need to check with your specific group. ADA generally refers to building specifications such as ramps, elevators etc. Public schools follow IDEA laws. Private schools are not legally bound to follow IDEA as they do not receive any federal funding. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, klmama said:

any precautionary tales

My ds has ASD with 3 SLDs (math, reading, writing) and a gifted IQ. I do not put him in *any* homeschool academic settings taught by non-professionals, because they are not prepared to handle behaviors and are typically pretty narrow in their instruction and ways they can interact. Experience teaching in a cs would also be a deal-breaker, because they'll be just as rigid. 

There is a system of instruction now, and I just can't, can't remember the name of it. There's an acronym and I walked by a workshop on it at a convention for disabilities. Maybe starts with D?? Basically it means they do EVERYTHING EVERY WAY. So there's visual and auditory and color and movement and and and. I'm not trained in it and didn't attend, but that's the jist. So when I say homeschoolers (and cs teachers typically) are rigid, I mean they're expecting kids to work ONE WAY. Like in a group near us, they're like oh yeah we're gonna lap book!!! So what do you do with a kid like mine whose IEP says scribe for anything longer than a sentence? Can't lapbook. Can't participate? Because that teacher has no more tools, it's game over, shut the door, my ds can't participate. 

Is this mom new to homeschooling? I think it's very different scenarios when someone is new and desperate and trying to sort out how they're going to do this (co-op, independent, whatever) vs. someone who has been around the block, is in their groove, and is just stretching to see if the dc is ready to self-advocate and work in a more challenging setting.

I personally think there's some balance between the unkindness of exclusion (nobody wants to feel they don't have a place) and the unkindness of putting someone in a situation that isn't going to work. Inclusion at any cost is not a kindness to the child. 

I've thought about doing something with kids like mine, like just as I meet families, 1-3 families, just a few kids, only kids in the same boat. Maybe try to put together some classes that work for the dc with people prepared to work in the way he needs? What does the mom really want to get out of it? Remember, if her goals are social and feeling part of a community, they could be doing art, PE, field trips clubs, yearbook, games club, whatever whatever. I would definitely ask if the dc has a STRENGTH you can work to in the co-op. Whatever that strength is, you want to put it to work in service or be teaching to it or be doing output through it or whatever. Like my ds has the 3 SLDs, but he's a pretty good DOER and a surprisingly good problem solver. He's good at building things to solve problems. And there are ways to bring that in with community service, class jobs, output, etc. 

But I swear, I never want to go to a co-op again after the last one I went to. The classes were SO rigid. It was moms teaching how their kids learned, and apparently the majority of the kids could tolerate it. But that's not what is going to be good for some kids, and it's not a kindness to include them at any cost. It gives the dc the impression that that's how learning has to look and that they're further defective when it doesn't work for them. My dd had straight ADHD, no diagnosed SLDs (though we've since been told writing should have been), and I couldn't put her in those classes. She went that alternative route with art, yearbook, that kind of thing, classes that worked to her STRENGTHS.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for this clarifying comment.  We aren't considered a school, so I'm not sure we are even required to comply with ADA or IDEA - we just want to help this child participate, if able to do so.  We already have quite a few students with learning disabilities, but most are able to succeed with minimal modifications in the classroom and extra effort at home.  This one has additional issues which make the situation more complicated.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Shellydon said:

many local groups will not accept any students with learning disabilities

And on the flip side, we have another group near us that is offering classes *targeting* kids with SLDs. Reading instruction, writing instruction, etc. only for kids with SLDs. And that's cool. The person teaching isn't ready to handle my ds, lol, but still they're making that fits a swath of kids, which is terrific.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, klmama said:

This one has additional issues which make the situation more complicated.  

So here's the trouble. And I speak as one whose dc has a very thick IEP. It's almost unheard of for a dc to have enough evals to sort through what's going on. That means it's going to be very easy to max out the skills of the teacher, because the dc's needs could go beyond what the parent even recognizes.

In situations like that, private tutoring is ideal.

Sometimes the dc is needing intervention by an SLP or intervention specialist and the volunteer co-op isn't the right setting. There are some issues so deep (narrative language, vocabulary, syntax, etc.) that they need specialized instruction to bust through. 

So to me, you could assume the issues are too hard for you to resolve, that they actually need professional help, and try to take advantage of what the student already CAN do, finding ways he CAN participate.

Edited by PeterPan
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The key, for me as a teacher, is to have as much information up front. Be transparent. Due to space and time not all classroom accommodations work well in a co-op or hybrid setting. However, you can usually come up with another that works for both the teacher and the student. Meet the teacher first. Read his/her credentials. My hybrid has some brilliant people teaching -truly experts in their subjects, but they are not educators and may not  "get" what you are asking for. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know how your group is structured, but I've thought of a few other things that our co-op does that might help.  Our classes are mixed age - often K-2, 3-5, then middle and high.  Classes like PE or choir have broad overlapping ranges, so K-4, then 4-8, then 8-12, while other classes are 'bridge' classes - physical science is 8-10, because some folks want it as a middle school precursor to advanced chem and physics, while others want to count it as a high school lab science.  Our board, along with the teachers and experienced moms will guide kids to the classes that will be a good fit.  We also let kids take classes outside their grade if it seems like a good solution - often it's only by 1 or 2 grades.  We do it in both directions, and kids are used to the broad age groupings.  Some classes are very hands-on and crafty, while others are more structured.  Most folks who have been around our group a while can give good advice - my own kids have taken very few of the same classes because their idea of 'fun' is different.  

Some classes are better able to handle differences than others.  For instance, I've had good luck with kids with dyslexia and other learning issues, despite my class having some traditional note-taking, because there is the lecture, the book, and online videos so that they can listen several times instead of having to study from notes that they struggled to take.  I've been impressed at how fantastically well some have done.   But, I also had a student with a number of undisclosed issues that ended up dropping - the parents never asked for any accommodations so I don't know how I should have handled the issues that arose. The student was very disruptive - always polite, but interrupting constantly for somebody to get a pencil, sharpener, or paper, could they use the bathroom, could I repeat something...all normal requests, but there aren't usually 30 of them from one student in 90 minutes.  There were other issues, and when the board asked the parents what we could do (because it was very disturbing to other students), I think they ended up quitting the co-op completely.   Based on that, I'd try to find out from the parents exactly what they think the student needs, what teachers need to know, and then try to find out what the student is able to do. As somebody mentioned above, if the class is a lapbook-based class and they struggle with fine motor skills, direct them to a different class.  It may not be practical for the teacher to adjust the class but so much - I signed one kid up for a class specifically because kiddo wanted to make a lapbook, for instance, and it was full of crafty kids there for the same reason.  But, another class might be a good fit - my student who dropped might have been OK in a PE or music class (or not...because we don't know the issues, I don't know what would have helped - I might have been able to accommodate if I had more info).  A student who struggles academically might be fine in cooking, and a fidgety student might do well in choir since they stand the whole time and sway a lot.  I can call on students frequently to keep them focused or avoid calling on a student with anxiety and a speech issue - I just need to know what to do.    

Depending on the age of the student, you might also be able to enlist a high school student to help.  Some of our high school students help out to get volunteer hours and might be able to help with certain things in younger students, or be a 'buddy' for an older student.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our co-op has been very successful in accommodating children with disabilities. I ask the parents to sit in class for the first few weeks so they can help train the teacher how to get the best out of the student. The only students that have not been successful are those who outbursts include hitting or running. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be careful about what PeterPan suggested about how some families have had school fail them and are basically just trying anything and aren't necessarily going in understanding how utterly different a homeschool coop usually is from a school setting.

Without knowing the situation, I think you can make many kids with learning issues successful, but I think the best thing you can do is be clear with the family at every step about what you can't do and where your limits are. Promising to try and work with them is good. But promising to make it work is not good because you might or might not be able to with the resources you have. I haven't faced this situation as a co-op, but when I was in administration at a small private school, this was a tough line to walk. To say, we want you here, we want to do what we can, we trust that you're the expert on your kid. But also, we can't necessarily be the place you need us to be. I'd say... try to be upbeat, flexible, and positive, but always interject a word of caution as you find your footing with this family.

Edited by Farrar
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Farrar said:

But also, we can't necessarily be the place you need us to be.

Bingo. And maybe if she's new, helping her network to find that place. Literally, sometimes people who live in our state don't even know we have disability scholarships, that they have access to funding to get the correct services. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I teach classes for homeschoolers.

The extent to which I can accomodate depends on the learning issue, the severity of that/those issue/s, and class size.

Generally I only accomodate within the realms of my actual skills and capabilities - so I can do a fair bit for kids with literacy issues, inattentive ADHD and mental health issues. In my class today I will be scribing for one student, offering another options for participation so that he can always take part in class in ways that work with his school-trauma related anxiety, and providing scaffolds to account for low working memory in another student.  

Parents are always welcome to be teachers' aides for their own child in my classes, but unfortunately, I am not able to take students who have major behaviour difficulties as a result of their disability, whether or not they have a parent aide. This is because I do not feel equipped to handle moderate to severe behaviour issues, AND provide quality instruction to the rest of the class. 

I think in homeschool settings, including co-ops, the onus is really on the parent to 1. communicate, 2. suggest possible accomodations and 3. accept if those accomodations are outside the realm of what can be accomplished by homeschool teachers/tutors.  As a former homeschool parent, I actually wouldn't expect that the vast majority homeschool parents/teachers have any expertise in this area, nor would I expect that they could accomodate many complex disabilities. 

As a teacher in a homeschool setting, the onus is on me to listen to the parent, ask clarifying questions, apply some thought to whether or not I can accomodate the child and their needs, and, if not, to point the parent in the direction of further support (likely one on one - speechies, tutors etc). Hth. 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Stella.  This is very helpful.  I will encourage the parent to be very forthcoming about her dc's specific needs.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I worked at a homeschool program (not as a teacher) and had my older daughter with dyslexia enrolled. She only needed minor supports until highschool and  then she needed a 504 plan to protect her GPA.  I have another daughter with a low IQ and full IEP in a theraputic day school. I have had to fight with some teachers to get thier needs met and other teachers have been amazing. 

I am dyslexic as well so I have a pretty firm grasp of what my older daughter was capable of. But she has a chronic fatique health issue I  didn't have.  One thing I know about life, is that some people just have to work harder than others to accomplish the same goals. I didn't want all the barriers removed for my daughter, but I did want to even the playing field a bit. I wanted her accademic responsibilities to increase as she got older even if that meant she put in more time than her peers.  I just didn't want her to spend 3-4 times the time and still get a 70% due to spelling/grammar. We formatted her goals so she wouldn't spend more than 1=2 hours per night and a few weekend hours on homework or projects.  When even those goals were too big, we cut down on her over all classes, so she could focus on just a few. She felt better about herself, maintaining grade level work and doing well in fewer classes....than if she took more classes and needed more supports to do so. It is a personality difference as much as anything, and I can't say it would be right/wrong for someone else. 

As a parent.....my old daughter needed a few accomodations that were fairly easy on the staff. We asked that she not be marked down for poor spelling, but did ask the teacher to mark them for her like they would any student so dd could see her errors.  If the teacher wanted her to repeat an assignment that spelling was critical, we asked that she be given as many times to repeat it as needed without negative consequences to her grade (ie work sheets on homophones etc).  We asked that she be given extra time but only if she asked for it (this put the responsiblity on my daughter to determine if she could get it done on time, or if she really did need extra time). To keep things fair/consistant, she basically got double the time on everything she asked for extra time on. Unless it was a huge writing assignment, it was plenty of time for her. She didn't get comprehension support (no open book tests or a talking through the test with a proctor) because she didn't need it as long as she had been given the information in a format she could understand/retain.  She was allowed to ask for extra-extra time if another of her classes had a heavy reading/writing load at the same time.  She was allowed to ask ahead of holiday breaks if there was an upcoming assignment/book that she could get a jump start on. She could ask for a copy of any projected notes (powerpoints etc) and could use other people's class notes if she chose too.  Teachers were not expected to create visual notes on thier verbal lessons.  She was allowed to answer essay questions in bullet point format (or another format that made sense for the assignment (prearranged with teacher).  A big one for her..she could choose to stand along a wall or back of classroom if she needed to move around, she just couldn't be disruptive to others. 

DD12 has low IQ and dyslexia. Her IEP is large and complex and wouldn't have anything useful to this discussion. (ie "will read 3rd grade words, 40wpm with 90% accuracy") IEPS in my experience for kids with cognitive delays outline the modified accademic plan more than supports.  Her supports are listed in her IEP, but they are less of a focus. 

I  think for me, I would want to  consider what the students plans for high school are. If they plan to homeschool with the intent of a modified or delayed diploma that would be fine to continue as things have been done so far. If he plans to go to a traditional highschool, the family may want to start considering ways to bridge what supports he needs now...to his future goals. If he has cognitive delays, they may need to get testing this year to show the school, so he can be on an IEP in high school.  TOTALLY not necessary for the homeschool classes, but I would look at the 8th grade year as an important planning step into high school. That way they know what does/doesns't work for the student and family. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Farrar said:

I think you can make many kids with learning issues successful, but I think the best thing you can do is be clear with the family at every step about what you can't do and where your limits are. Promising to try and work with them is good. But promising to make it work is not good because you might or might not be able to with the resources you have. I haven't faced this situation as a co-op, but when I was in administration at a small private school, this was a tough line to walk. To say, we want you here, we want to do what we can, we trust that you're the expert on your kid. But also, we can't necessarily be the place you need us to be. I'd say... try to be upbeat, flexible, and positive, but always interject a word of caution as you find your footing with this family.

Thank you.  Yes, this is how we need to approach this.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, ClemsonDana said:

Depending on the age of the student, you might also be able to enlist a high school student to help.  Some of our high school students help out to get volunteer hours and might be able to help with certain things in younger students, or be a 'buddy' for an older student.  

Excellent idea!  Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...