A Program to Suit My Child’s Needs
Learning: An Individual Process
All children can learn, but not all children learn in the same way, at the same time, or at the same rate. Learning is an individual process. Students with special needs have different learning needs, and there are many different ways of meeting those needs. What is right for one student may not be the best for another.
Meeting students’ individual learning needs means
- identifying current needs and skills
- choosing and developing individual outcomes or goals for a student
- choosing the best learning setting
- deciding on and planning for appropriate programming
- Planning Effective Programming
Effective programming is:
- based on an individual student’s needs planned and active, continually adjusted as necessary to meet a student’s needs inclusive, allowing students to participate in the regular curriculum to the fullest extent possible consistent across environments dependent upon parents and teachers working together
Meeting Students’ Programming Needs
Most students with special needs require some programming assistance to learn. This may involve changing the way a student is expected to learn, complete assignments, or participate in the classroom.
To determine the type and extent of programming assistance needed, a team considers the student’s abilities, strengths, and needs.
Types of Programming Assistance
In addition to differentiating instruction for all students, schools use adaptation, curricular modification, or individualized programming to support students. An explanation of these ways of meeting students’ programming needs follows.
All teachers attempt to provide programming that responds to different learning needs among all students by differentiating their classroom teaching. Teachers will often vary their teaching methods or approaches when planning daily lessons, when working with students in the classroom, and when assessing student progress.
When a student is capable of meeting the learning goals or outcomes of the Manitoba curriculum but needs physical accommodation or a different form of instruction or assessment, adaptations may be used. Adaptation means changing the teaching process, the types of materials, and/or the assignments or products a student may produce. For example, some students with physical disabilities cannot write and need a computer to do their written work. Students who are blind may need their learning materials to be available in Braille. These are adaptations.
Some students with special needs may have significant cognitive learning difficulties that mean they cannot meet the Manitoba curriculum outcomes, even with adaptations. They need the curriculum to be modified. Modification means that the number or content of the Manitoba curriculum outcomes changes to meet a student’s learning needs. It is important that a student’s team discuss why and how the modifications are being made.
Parents need to be informed and involved in the discussion. Modifications should be outlined in an IEP. In the Senior Years (high school), when the school team determines that a student’s courses will receive a Modified (M) designation, the student and parents must be included in this decision. Parents and students should be aware that M-designated courses do not meet entry requirements for post secondary institutions and that they are reported on students’ report cards.
Some students whose cognitive disabilities are so significant that they do not benefit from participating in the Manitoba curriculum need highly individualized, functionally appropriate learning goals.
A team makes the decision to provide individualized programming based on a student’s cognitive abilities. Individualized programming is based on planning in the areas of cognitive/functional academic skills, communication skills, social/behavioural skills, self-help or personal management skills, and fine and gross motor skills. These student-specific outcomes or goals should be outlined in an IEP. For older students, individualized programming often includes vocational planning. Senior Years students who receive an individualized programming designation (I) must have an IEP documenting the programming goals.
Talk to the classroom teacher about the type of programming assistance your child needs or is receiving. If your child is receiving adaptations, curricular modifications, or individualized programming and you would like more information, contact your child’s classroom teacher or resource teacher.