Skills vs. Accommodations

The other day I mentioned how accommodations don’t solve the problems many parents think they do, and I want to share a story to help illustrate this.

I was talking with a Mom who went through hell getting her son set up with accommodations. She paid quite a bit to get him tested in the first place, then had to basically fight the school to get them to honor his diagnoses and accommodations. This battle unfolded over many months and when all was said and done and he had a few weeks of accommodations under his belt, his grades hadn’t gotten better (and his attitude, she pointed out, was worse than ever).

I asked about the skills and strategies he was using to manage his work. Like most teens, he was ‘doing’ school to get it done and off his plate, and didn’t have anything in place to actively manage or engage in what he was being taught. 

Her son reluctantly agreed to let us help him build some basic skills. We started with time management and executive functioning, i.e. setting him up with his very own calendar (ground zero for all students). The first week, he had no missing assignments. By week three, he was getting A’s and Bs in almost all of his classes. Nothing had changed re: his accommodations. He had started learning how to learn and build some skills and, as happens like clockwork with skill-building, school got ‘easier’ and he felt smarter.  

Now, this has happened more times than I can count – parents who go above and beyond in getting accommodations but don’t realize their child’s skills deficit needs as much if not more attention. 

I hope to impart this on you here and now – your child needs to learn how to build their own skills in order for things to improve meaningfully and sustainably. Accommodations serve a purpose and certain students need them but they don’t build your child’s skills, which are the most powerful catalyst to learning and achievement. 

Another reason to make sure your child is a skill-builder?

Nobody can take skills away from them. They don’t need to re-apply for skills in college or at the workplace. Skills are theirs for life – they don’t need to doubt their ability to succeed in scenarios without accommodations (which will be most of the time in their adult life). 

Also, most students I work with don’t like their accommodations – for different reasons though mostly because they feel singled out/don’t want their friends to know – and I’ve seen it be a battle for parents to even get their child to use them. 

They feel much better about building skills because skills are in their control – they don’t need the playing field leveled for them, they can level it themselves. This is really empowering for most teens.

To your teen’s incredible capacity to learn how to learn,



Most schools don’t teach kids how to learn. If you want help giving your child the skills they need to thrive, click here to book a free 1:1 Learning Skills Assessment with my team. This is a ~60 minute deep dive into your child’s situation with school and their relationship with learning. You’ll walk away with TONS of insight and a clear understanding of the exact steps that will ensure your child’s best school year yet.

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