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50+ Student Accommodations – Ideas to Help Kids Succeed at School

What’s inside this article: Student accommodations and solutions to help improve some of the most common challenges faced by children at school. This guide aims to help children find more success at school.

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Why Do Some Students Need Accommodations at School?

Student accommodations may be used for many reasons – from a learning disability to sensory processing disorder, autism, ADHD, and complex behavioral needs.

There are many different types of student accommodations to help with a myriad of challenges.

Maybe you’re a teacher looking for the right solution for your student. Or, maybe you’re a parent looking for ideas to share with your child’s teacher.

Regardless, use this post as a guide to finding possible solutions to students’ common challenges.

These solutions include everything from products, tools, activities, and more. You may want to include some of these accommodations as part of your child’s/student’s 504 plan.

Student Accommodations for Common Challenges at School

What's inside this article: Student accommodations and solutions to help improve some of the most common challenges faced by children at school. This guide aims to help children find more success at school. #SpecialEd #SPED #Autism #ADHD #SPD #TeachingTips

If your child…can’t sit still, try:

  • Wiggle Feet – This is a silent fidget tool that children can use at school to release excess energy without disturbing the class. It helps students stay on task longer, improves focus, alleviates boredom that makes some students struggle to stay still.
  • Wobble Cushion – for their seats at school or to take along to appointments.  Lets your little one wiggle to their heart’s content. Weight shifting and movement can help improve focus.
  • Hand fidgets – Toys like fidget spinners, putty, fidget rings, etc. are perfect for in the classroom because they’re small and portable.
  • Take a movement break. Try this 7 minute HIIT workout that’s proven to help sensory seekers stay calm and focused.
  • Chair push-ups – Get your child to hold on to either side of their chair and push with their arms to lift their bottoms off the seat. This provides proprioceptive input through heavy work and it’s a tactic used by occupational therapists.

If your child … is shy and/or has poor social skills

  • The right to pass – This is a great strategy to have classroom-wide. The right to pass means that any child you call on during class to answer a question or speak has the right to say “pass” if they’re uncomfortable speaking in front of others. You can always check in with them in private later if it’s something you want to make sure they understand.
  • Nonverbal ways to communicate – These come in many forms and it doesn’t really matter how you do it, as long as it works for your child. It’s great to have something like a hand signal between the child and adult that signals they need help or need a break. You could also use pecs cards or some kind of pass the child can take if they need a break.
  • Some kids are uncomfortable raising their hands and requesting to use the washroom, and they may avoid going during lunch when it’s more likely there will be a lot of people in the bathroom. If this is a known problem, mid-morning and mid-afternoon make an announcement to that class that if anyone needs a bathroom break to go now before the class moves on to a new activity.

If your child … doesn’t like loud noises or finds them distracting

  • Noise Reducing Headphones – These are the most commonly used solution for sensitive ears and they work great for a lot of children, but some are more self-conscious and don’t want others to see them.
  • High Fidelity Ear Plugs – If your child wants something more discreet, try these instead of headphones. These are nearly invisible earplugs that reduce decibel levels by 22db while still allowing you to hear whats going on around you, just at a lower volume.
  • Soundproof foam panels – You can use these to create a quiet corner in the classroom that children can use as a workspace or to take a break when the classroom is loud
  • Allow the child to complete work in an alternate work environment – Sometimes kids just really need to go somewhere quiet. It’s best if you can keep the child in the classroom during instruction time, but once you’ve moved on to an assignment, allow the child to take their work elsewhere. Student accommodations need to find the right balance between keeping the child in the classroom as much as possible and setting them up for learning success.

If your child … jumps and crashes into everything and acts rough, try:

If your child … melts down easily, try:

If your child … struggles to tie their shoes or put them on the right feet, try:

  • Putting these cute stickers, called Shoezooz, inside your kiddos sneakers. Or, cut any sticker in half and place one half in the left shoe and one half in the right.
  • Use bi-colored laces and this adorable little book for teaching them to tie their shoes independently.
  • No tie laces – These are my personal go-to solution, they turn any pair of sneakers into slip-on shoes, they look cute, too.

If your child … struggles with hair pulling or skin picking, try:

  • This snap and click fidget toy. This one is literally my favorite and I play with my son’s all the time. The little click sound it makes when you fidget with it is oddly satisfying.
  • This fidget kit which is a one-of-a-kind kit created specifically for children who pull out their hair or pick at their skin.
  • This toy called the “hairy tangle”  – a manipulative, hairy, fidget toy

If your child … has a difficult time making transitions (big or small), try:

If your child … has trouble with gross motor skills, try:

If your child … has trouble with fine motor skills try:

  • Grab some pipe cleaners and beads at the dollar store and get your child to thread them. This is a great quiet activity for the kitchen table.
  • Children who struggle with bilateral coordination, motor planning, posture, and shoulder stability often have messy handwriting and some avoid writing at all costs. One fun way to work on this is with a velcro catch set. (Poor spatial awareness also contributes to messy hand writing)
  • Practice cutting lines and shapes on construction paper. Draw a variety of lines (straight, zig-zag, wavy, etc) and let your child cut them out. Practice with shapes, too. Circles, hearts, stars, etc.
  • Playdough, putty, and slime all help strengthen hands and fingers to improve fine motor skills.
  • Play a game of Operation, or Perfection.
  • Use activities and toys designed to target fine motor skills. I love this Mosaic with wooden pegs. Your kids can remake them again and again.

If your child … often refuses to do their classwork

  • First of all, there are many reasons why kids refuse to do their classwork but let me just say, it’s very unlikely that they just “don’t feel like it” even if that’s how it seems or what they tell you. Digging deeper to find the reason is going to help a lot, but here are some possible accommodations.
  • Keep duo-tangs that have several activities and worksheets in them that cover the current learning outcomes and allow them to choose which one to do.
  • For creative writing – kids often struggle getting started. Write the first sentence for them and have them take it from there, or provide writing prompts and starting sentences for them to choose from.
  • Break up the amount of work – a lot of questions on one page can seem overwhelming, even if they aren’t expected to answer every single question. For example, take that math worksheet that has 12 questions and instead put 3 questions on a page, using a bigger font and providing more blank space to show their work. Only give one sheet at a time to reduce overwhelm.
  • Give the option of working independently – some children struggle significantly with social demands and while the rest of the class gets excited to work in partners or small groups, these kids feel completely different. So allow them to work independently if they wish.
  • Speech to text software – Allow students to use speech to text whenever possible for creative writing and projects. Handwriting and typing can both be tedious and frustrating for students which discourages them from completing their work over all.

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, coach, etc. save these student accommodations so you can reference them later.

These are common challenges for kids at school. I think every child struggles at one point or another.

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, but hopefully from these accommodations, you find something that works for you.

What's inside this article: Student accommodations and solutions to help improve some of the most common challenges faced by children at school. This guide aims to help children find more success at school. #SpecialEd #SPED #Autism #ADHD #SPD #TeachingTips

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Sarah Gibson

Wednesday 4th of September 2019

Hi! I work with children who are Autistic, and currently have a student who spits a lot, which is alienating them from their peers. I wonder if you have any experience with this behavior, and if you have any ideas which could help reduce the spitting? Thanks.

Nicole Day

Wednesday 4th of September 2019


I'm going to send you an e-mail so I can get a little more information and try to help :)