You might be wondering, what is a 504 Plan? Well, 504 Plans are designed to help students learn alongside their peers in a mainstream classroom setting. They do this by removing personal barriers to learning. This system of support is beneficial for a variety of students, including individuals who have a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This means that students with apparent (i.e. behavior, difficulty in sustaining attention, impulsivity, processing, etc.) or hidden concerns (i.e. anxiety, depression, medical issues, allergies, etc.) can receive the necessary support and services that help make school less overwhelming.
Think of it as a blueprint for how a student will have access to learning at school. These blueprints document a personal design of services, or accommodations, that improve the learning environment to better meet the needs of the student. Accommodations might include:
Extended time on tests or assignments
Peer assistance with note taking
Frequent feedback and direction
Behavior Management Plan
Oral tests, or individualized testing
Personalized Support Plans
Access to appropriate coping mechanisms or tools
While these accommodations are great, we know that each child has their own strengths and weaknesses. That is why a 504 Plan is created by a team of people who are familiar with the student and who understand the evaluation data and special services options. This team typically consists of the child’s parent, teachers, and the school principal. At Art It Out, we are willing to work to provide the student and the team with as much support as possible. Sometimes this means coming to observe the child in the classroom environment. This allows us to provide appropriate feedback along with recommendations for the school setting.
It’s important to note that schools have room to grow in developing a 504 Plan. So, it’s beneficial to remain informed regarding methods in establishing the best blueprint for your child. Consider the following tips:
Be proactive. You want to be part of the process. You’re advocating for your child, so don’t be afraid to share your ideas and insights.
Make sure the plan is personalized to your child; you don’t want a standardized plan. So, push for accommodations tailored to your child’s needs.
Discuss all of the school settings and situations that your child needs support (i.e. transitions, playground, testing, specific classes).
Vague descriptions aren’t helpful. Be as specific as possible.
Make sure the plan lists the type of personnel responsible for providing each accommodation or service. This might include nurses, teachers, aids, etc.
Check in with your child and teachers semi-regularly. It’s okay to ask specific questions about the accommodations that have been put in place. Follow up questions are helpful in perfecting the plan.
Review and update the 504 Plan at least once a year.
For some, this process can seem overwhelming. You might have a lot of questions. How do I get started? Does my child need an evaluation? What’s a 504 Plan versus an IEP? Can my child’s therapist be a part of the process? How do we find the right accommodations for our child? How do I advocate for my child?
It’s okay to seek help from someone outside of the school who knows you and your child. At Art It Out, we are here to help. Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist!