In education sciences, it is increasingly considered that participation and learning within schools do not only depend on children adapting to school activities, but the school itself has the responsibility of adapting to the conditions of the children.
From this approach, different pedagogical proposals have emerged to deal with the diversity of ways of learning and participating. One of them is the curricular adaptations.
What are curricular adaptations?
The curricular adaptations, also known as curricular adaptations, are one of the strategies that pedagogy has developed to reduce barriers in the learning and participation of children.
The word “curriculum” comes from “curriculum” (meaning “career” in Latin) and refers to the educational plans or projects that shape pedagogical activities. In this sense, a curriculum allows us to answer the questions of what is taught? and how is it taught? This may vary according to the school or educational systems.
Thus, a curricular adaptation consists of broad strokes in planning and making the modifications that are pertinent in a curriculum (for example, in the first year primary education program) to favor the learning and participation of one or more children.
In what cases are they necessary?
Curriculum adjustments may be necessary if a child has difficulties in acquiring skills or knowledge at the speed demanded in a school through the official curriculum (in this case we could say that there is a learning barrier).
But not only that, but it can also happen that a school needs to adapt to the conditions of its space (architecture) so that children can access educational programs. For example, in the case of someone who has reduced mobility.
Or it can also happen that children are going through emotionally conflicting situations and this has an impact on their academic performance, which could be offset if the curriculum has some flexibility.
These last cases are barriers to participation, and although they do not involve directly modifying the educational program, they are important because the participation of children is one of the necessary conditions to facilitate their access to the curriculum.
Types of curricular adaptations
There are several types of curricular adjustments, each one depends on the child’s condition and also on the conditions of the school or educational system.
1. Access adaptations (or schedule the classroom)
Access adaptations are those that, as the name implies, allow children to enter educational spaces. They can be of two types, access adaptations about physical condition, or access adaptations about communication.
1.1. Access adaptations about the physical condition
They consist of reviewing the means and resources that prevent or allow the child to access the curriculum for reasons of mobility or communication. That is to say, it is about adapting the physical spaces of the schools, providing the necessary technological supports and ensuring that there is adequate furniture, so that they can guarantee all children to integrate into classrooms, gardens, etc.
1.2. Access adaptations about communication
They imply taking into account that throughout their development, children may have different difficulties in communicating with others, both orally and in writing.
Likewise, in the case of children with sensory as well as intellectual or motor disabilities, communication difficulties may arise. An example of access adaptation, in this case, is to promote augmentative and alternative communication systems and the use of resources such as symbols, the sign system, the use of hearing aids, the Braille system, or electronic or pictorial panels, which among others Things can facilitate the expression and understanding of children.
In sum, access adaptations can be facilitated if we ask what displacement, communication, and interactions are promoted within the educational environment.
2. Adaptations of the curriculum elements
These adaptations consist of making modifications directly to the educational curriculum. It is a process that must be done gradually and with the participation of both the children involved and the teaching staff.
Its development can be subdivided into four general stages: diagnosis, design, implementation, and assessment. However, these stages, their course, and their closure depend very much on the person who proposes them as well as the people who will put them into practice.
2.1. Diagnosis: why do we need a curricular adaptation?
It is about knowing the institutional conditions, that is, the supports that the school has within its community, as well as identifying the knowledge of the teaching staff about the education plans that are applied according to the school year.
It also implies carrying out a psycho-pedagogical evaluation, not only of the boy or girl but also of the real possibilities of teachers to carry out an adaptation and follow-up. In the same way, identify the child’s condition, that is, the reasons why access to learning is being hindered. Finally, to know the area of near development, its needs, and interest, so that prudent and realistic objectives can be set.
2.2. Design: how to compensate for the situation?
After having analyzed the normative documents, the current educational plans, the school conditions and the needs of the children, it is necessary to prioritize the situation that needs to be compensated through a curricular adaptation, and from there generate a proposal. For example, in some priority cases, the child acquires academic knowledge, and in others, it is more necessary to stimulate social skills.
It is then about developing the proposal together with the teaching team, so that a monthly, bi-monthly or annual curriculum is planned according to the needs of the educational context, and adapting this proposal to the needs and the area of the child’s next development.
2.3. Implementation: implementation
It consists of starting to use the didactic units programmed for the determined time, and above all to implement them gradually. Also provide the materials, detailed strategies and consider the form of evaluation or assessment that will be carried out.
2.4. Constant rating
Finally, it is necessary to assess the child’s access to the curriculum, both in terms of mobility and communication, and the ease it has now to acquire the knowledge that we have proposed. Likewise, to detect new difficulties, both of the children, as well as of the teachers and the educational community, so that it is possible to propose prudent alternatives.