8 Tips For Preparing For Your Child’s IEP Meeting

If you don’t have a special needs child, you are probably wondering what an IEP is. Simply put, an IEP is an Individual Education Plan. Think of it as a special report card for the kids that don’t fit into the categories that are on a typical report card. I hate using terms like typical, but it really is an easy way to explain it. It has goals that are chosen to especially for that child and strategies set up to meet those goals. It can also have ways to measure the child’s success.

IEP

Bring A List Of Goals You Want Your Child To Work Towards

Take some time the week before your meeting and brainstorm. In the moment, it can be overwhelming and things can be missed. Taking some time in advance to prepare helps you stay confident going in and coming out of the meeting.

Confirm Which People Will Be Attending In Advance

Information is always an asset. Although most IEPs include all the people working with your child, sometimes scheduling conflicts can make for a smaller meeting. Check who will be there and follow up with the people who can not attend if possible. I have actually seen therapists not know an IEP was scheduled. I know, it is outrageous. Sometimes you need to be the voice for your child even in a place that it isn’t your job.

Bring Past IEPS For Comparison

This is especially helpful when you are having a new school, new teachers, or new resource people come in. What helps me is to keep a folder with all of Little C’s assessments, reports, and IEPS. I wish I could say that I have always had the schools be prepared, but unfortunately, I have had some bad experiences. There was one instance where I had one resource teacher try to say they met a goal that we had discussed previously. In actuality, I had told him that the goal was not appropriate as she had the skill already, he just didn’t observe it! Some therapists almost “pad” their progress. It is sad, but it happens. Having the documentation helps you feel confident to speak up if things don’t add up.

Try To Stay Positive and Professional, But Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Up

This one is tough. The saying you catch more bees with honey is true here, however, you can not allow your self to be a pushover. Sometimes we have to be the loud voice but start calm. I recently was forced to put a resource teacher in his place. I waited for months, watching my daughter not get the help she needed, not having the therapists informed of our meetings. Then, I was not invited to a transition meeting. Not even informed. I lost it. I am not proud of losing my temper, however, I did notify the school board, and had changes made because I spoke up. Speaking up not only helped my daughter, but it helped other parents not go through the same thing.

Plan For More Time Than You Think You Need

Sometimes people are running behind schedule. You do not want to be rushed. Rushing will leave you feeling there were things missed. Take your time.

Take Notes

You might not be able to remember everything discussed. It is a lot of information after all. Taking notes can help when you look back and see the progress your self.

Be Appreciative For The Effort In Helping Your Child

Leave the meeting thanking those working with you. Make sure they know that you appreciate their work and insights.

Expect To Feel Drained Afterwords

Sometimes you can leave your IEP meeting happy, refreshed and amazed that your child is progressing, but not always. It is an emotionally draining experience.  Try to avoid any big things planned for that day. Make plans for a coffee date with a good friend, or to curl up in bed with your favourite movie. Have supper in a slow cooker, or order a pizza. There is nothing worse than feeling drained and having to take care of everyone else when you are low. Take the time before so if you need it, you can hide and recover.

IEPs can be overwhelming, and that’s ok. They can be exciting, and that’s ok too. Every child is different, and so is every teacher, therapist, and resource. We can all work together, and preparation can be the key to key to greater success. After all, that’s all any parent wants for their child. And success never looks the same on everybody.


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